By: Adam Garner
Global Business Unit Director at CSA Group

The annual HazardEx conference in Cheshire, UK, provided a platform for over 400 professionals from the Oil & Gas, Energy & Major Hazards sectors to come together to discuss the opportunities and challenges relevant in industry today.

Sitting in on a number of the conference tracks provided a snapshot of some of the topics that are foremost in the minds of both manufacturers and end-users of hazardous location products.

Of particular interest was the talk from Prof. Dr. Thorsten Arnhold, IECEx Chairman, and his view of the IECEx scheme “building safe bridges for global business”. The very nature of IECEx (the Explosive Atmosphere scheme under the IEC movement) is to remove barriers without diminishing safety.

The IECEx test report (issued by an accredited IECEx test laboratory) is a portable document, which can be used to support national certification schemes without the need for expensive re-testing in every country.

Its usefulness can be explained in the way we at CSA Group can structure a multi-approval project. If a manufacturer is looking for global market export, we can combine certification packages – producing an ATEX certificate (for EU) and IECEx certificate in one project. Access to North America can be gained with the CSA mark, and an IECEx test report can be used to support this if a Zone certification is sought.

Whilst IECEx is a voluntarily certification scheme, the number of IECEx certificates & test reports being issued continues to increase year on year (source: Many of those have been issued to equipment used in the Oil & Gas industry. Research also shows that Oil & Gas (up-stream and down-stream) is estimated to have accounted for 66.4% of hazardous area equipment revenues in 2014, with the forecast for 2020 set to account for 67%. This is despite the fall in the price of oil in recent years (source: IHS).

IECEx has played its part in this – in my view due to the growing popularity of the scheme, coupled with the way IECEx data can be used to support international approvals.

Countries like Brazil, and trading blocs like the Eurasian Customs Union (which includes Russia) recognise 60079 standards in their national legislation, meaning that approvals in these countries can be gained without re-testing, saving manufacturer’s time and money.

Also of note is the recent new edition of standards ISO/IEC 80079 parts 36 and 37 to the scope, covering non-electrical equipment. Such equipment can now be certified under the same IECEx scheme as electrical equipment, and it’s expected that the growth in this area will begin to trend in the same way as the other schemes under the IECEx umbrella. Relatively speaking, the legislation for non-electrical equipment is not as prevalent as it is for electrical products, and these standards now provide industry with a recognisable answer to this problem.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) presented on business resilience and continuity in industry, and the role standardisation plays in this. A quote that stood out to me was:

“Standards are an enabler. Many of today’s challenges – productivity, innovation, risk and sustainability – can be addressed by standardising processes.”

Standards development is at the heart of what CSA Group is all about – the first Canadian safety standard, published in 1919 (for steel railway bridges) was published by the organisation that would later be called CSA Group.

The work CSA Group does in standards helps to promote a better, more sustainable world, and details about what we do can be found here.

Looking closer at new product development and advancement within industry, it’s worth remembering that nearly all new equipment and safety instrumented systems are, or have the potential to be, connected together to record “big data” and communicate this to a remote source.

The “Internet of Things” (IOT) movement in industry will dominate both society and business, and with all its many advantages, the challenge of cyber security prevails. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) presented a talk in collaboration with the UKPIA (UK Petroleum Industry Association) on some best practice approaches major hazards sites could take to tackle cyber threats. Simple processes such as improved network security, to more robust staff training and the implementation of disaster recovery protocols were discussed.

This tied in with the HSE’s efforts in a soon to be published operational guidance document on the subject. The aim is to provide major hazard sites with a specific document on the proportionate approach that should be taken when managing risk from cyber threats.

The safety and security of connected products is paramount, and CSA Group has recently launched a number of cyber security assessment and testing services to allow manufacturers and site owners to stay ahead of the technology curve and prevent cyber threats from impacting their businesses.

The conference in total covered 24 presentations, with themes ranging from standards & regulation, human factors & safety culture, functional safety and cyber security. It was great to see the knowledge, thought leadership and passion of those speaking on the podium.

My congratulations and thanks to all the experts that presented over the 2-day conference, the companies that exhibited their latest products & services, and the folks at HazardEx for putting on yet another successful and industry-relevant show.

Article Source: LinkedIn