Hazardous area equipment can come into use in a wide variety of locations, from outdoor refuelling docks and chemical storage areas, to indoors where a fire or explosion could prove even more disastrous.

A recent article in MATEC Web of Conferences, an open-access journal addressing issues in materials science, engineering and chemistry, looked at combustible mixture explosions in production floor areas, and concluded that the direct risk to buildings in such incidents is significant.

The researchers found that it is explosions inside process equipment itself that can cause substantial building damage, as pieces of the machinery collide with the building structure.

“Analysis of the nature of explosion effect on building structures and equipment has shown that explosions characterised by an absence of equipment and building structure disintegration normally have a localised character,” they added.

Hazardous area equipment mitigates this, ideally by preventing the explosion from occurring in the first place, but secondarily by containing any blast to an extent that reduces building damage and the risk of injury or loss of life to anyone working nearby.