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Hazardous Area Classification (HAC) or Electrical Area Classification (EAC) is a method of analyzing and classifying the environment where hazardous atmospheres may be present so as to facilitate the proper selection and installation of electrical equipment to be used safely in that environment. When electrical equipment is used in, around, or near an atmosphere that has hydrocarbons in the form of flammable gases, vapors, or liquids, combustible dusts, or ignitable fibers, there is always a possibility or risk that a fire or explosion might occur. Proper Hazardous Area Classifications are a key part of process safety risk management and should be updated and maintained as part of an overall Process safety Management (PSM) program.
Those areas where the risk of fire or explosion might occur due to an explosive atmosphere and/or mixture is often called a hazardous (or classified) location/area.
Currently there are two systems used to classify these hazardous areas for electrical equipment:
- Class/Division System (used predominantly in the United States)
- Zone System
IFO Group performs area classification assessments in accordance with recognized U.S. and international standards and guidelines applicable to each project such as OSHA 1910.307, NFPA 70 - National Electrical Code Handbook, NFPA 497, NFPA 499, API RP 500, API RP 505, IEC 60079, and ISA 12.10.
A typical hazardous area classification assessment performed by IFO Group follows these basic steps:
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