The UK’s National Forklift Safety Day (NFSD) returns on 8thJune this year with a new theme focused on ensuring that all material handling equipment (MHE) remains safe for use. The campaign focuses on the importance of accredited Thorough Examination, but what happens if the forklift is ATEX compliant?
The National Forklift Safety Day is a brilliant initiative which is being promoted by the UK Material Handling Association, the new voice in UK material handling formed by the merger of the industry’s two most respected trade associations – BITA (British Industrial Truck Association) and the FLTA (Fork Lift Truck Association).
In the UK, a “Thorough Examination” is a mandatory inspection required by law to ensure that the mechanical parts of a lift truck are in safe working order. Other countries have similar requirements under different names.
Putting laws and names to one side, the facts remain that for best practice forklift trucks should be inspected at specific intervals throughout their lifetime to make sure they are still safe. But when it comes to ATEX trucks, the “Thorough Examination” is important, but it is not enough.
Not to be confused with the lift truck Thorough Examination, an Ex Annual Safety Audit (Ex-ASA) is a thorough inspection of the safety critical componentsin the explosion protection conversions by specialist Engineers.
Pyroban’s Ex-ASA ensures that the integrity and ATEX safety of the material handling equipment is not compromised during its working lifetime.
If no irregularities have been found during the inspection, the ATEX lift truckwill be declared safe for use and a certificate will be issued to support the site’s Explosion Protection Document (EPD).
We recently reported that up to 20% of explosion protected lift trucksin operation may not pass an Annual Safety Audit. A “Thorough Examination” would not pick the problems up!
When a lift truck leaves the Pyroban facility, we can be confident that its safety systems are working as they should to help prevent ignition in a potentially explosive atmosphere. However, it’s important to check that it stays that way, particularly after a few years of heavy use.
A standard “Thorough Examination” simply does not check the explosion protection system. In other words, the trucks may be safe mechanically, but it may still present an ignition source.
Among the most common reasons for failing a Pyroban Ex-ASA are issues with fork cladding and earth straps, worn tyres, poorly maintained batteries and even seat cushion wear. Badly maintained or worn inlet shut-down valves are also common reasons for an Ex-ASA failure on diesel forklifts, none of which would be declared on a standard “Thorough Examination” or inspection.
On occasion, Pyroban’s audits have found serious problems where the motors have been repaired or altered by unqualified engineers with no experience of explosion protection. This compromises the integrity of the whole safety system and could render elements of it completely useless.
An unqualified person making any change to an explosion protected truck could prove disastrous, so it’s important that only correctly ATEX trained engineerswork on Pyroban converted lift trucks.
Keeping up with preventative maintenance (with the correct parts) is an ideal way to avoid danger and make sure systems function correctly. But ensuring that equipment is regularly audited for safety provides extra reassurance and should be a priority for any operation with trucks operating in ATEX Zone 1, 2, 21 or 22 areas.
The Pyroban Ex-ASA also supports compliance with ATEX 1999/92/EC, which requires the end user to “demonstrate that work equipment is designed and maintained with due regard for safety”.