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In electrical engineering, hazardous locations (sometimes abbreviated to HazLoc, pronounced Haz·Lōk) are defined as places where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases, flammable liquid–produced vapors, combustible liquid–produced vapors, combustible dusts, or ignitable fibers/flyings present in the air in quantities sufficient to produce explosive or ignitable mixtures. Electrical equipment that must be installed in such classified locations should be specially designed and tested to ensure it does not initiate an explosion, due to arcing contacts or high surface temperature of equipment.
The introduction of electrical apparatus for signaling or lighting in coal mines was accompanied by electrically-initiated explosions of flammable gas and dust. Technical standards were developed to identify the features of electrical apparatus that would prevent electrical initiation of explosions due to energy or thermal effects. Several physical methods of protection are used. The apparatus may be designed to prevent entry of flammable gas or dust into the interior. The apparatus may be strong enough to contain and cool any combustion gases produced internally. Or, electrical devices may be designed so that they cannot produce a spark strong enough or temperatures high enough to ignite a specified hazardous gas. Integrating these types of motors can ensure that equipment, facilities, and workers stay protected and machinery is not damaged.