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Electrostatic Hazard Assessment

Static electricity may cause nuisance or damage and it may represent a fire or explosion hazard when flammable gases, liquids and powders are handled. Often an electrostatic ignition hazard arises when the electrostatic charge generated in a process is allowed to accumulate to levels sufficient to give rise to electrostatic discharges.

Thus, the first step in an electrostatic hazard assessment is identifying where in the process electrostatic charge can be generated and accumulated. Next, if the generation and accumulation of charge cannot be controlled, the types of electrostatic discharges that can arise must be identified. Lastly, in order to verify that a hazard exists, the effective energy of these discharges must be determined and compared to the minimum ignition energy (MIE) of the prevailing flammable atmosphere.

The purpose of the assessment is to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the operations on site using flammable materials are undertaken in such a way that necessary safety measures are taken to avoid electrostatic ignition hazards. The site operations are reviewed for the presence of the flammable atmosphere and the possibility of ignition due to static electricity.

Electrostatic Hazard Assessment study involves the following:
  • Understanding the flammability, ignition sensitivity and electrostatic properties of the gas(es), liquid(s) and dust(s);
  • Identification of locations or operations where flammable vapour/ gas/ combustible dust atmospheres could be present during normal and abnormal operating conditions;
  • Identification of potential electrostatic sparks (i.e. potential of electrostatic caused ignition) associated with liquids, high resistivity solids and personnel that could be present under normal and abnormal conditions;
  • Sample measurement of resistance to ground for fixed metal plant equipment such as mixing vessels, operator, flooring, etc.
  • Review of the existing measures to eliminate and/ or control electrostatic ignition hazards;
  • Recommendation on practical measures to eliminate and/or control the potential of the static caused fires and/or explosions.

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