It’s easy to think hazardous area equipment is only needed on industrial sites, where chemicals are handled and processed, or perhaps at locations where oil and gas are handled.
But when it comes to delivering that gas, the presence of a pipeline alone can create a hazardous area, as a recent HSE report highlights.
In September 2012, at a Lincolnshire farm, a worker was operating a tractor in the charmingly named Deer Park Hollow, one of the farm’s fields.
However, the charming name and the fertile soil of the field hid a secret – a gas pipeline running just a few inches below the surface.
The tractor’s subsoiler hit the pipeline, fracturing it and creating a substantial hazardous area which required nearby homes to be evacuated for two days until it was repaired.
HSE inspector Samantha Farrar said: “The pipeline strike and the resulting uncontrolled release of gas caused a significant risk of fire or an explosion which could have resulted in the loss of life.”
The incident demonstrates that appearances can be deceptive – and hazardous area equipment may be needed anywhere inflammable materials are present, regardless of whether they are a main part of the site’s business operations.