safety sort by date
Some industry sectors are automatically associated with explosive (Ex) atmospheres – oil and gas, petrochemical plants, mining and in particular coal mining. Many others won’t necessarily come to mind although the risk of fire and explosion exists and needs to be heeded. Food processing, sugar refineries, grain handling and storage, printing, paper and textile industries, sawmills, woodworking areas or waste treatment operations are all potential hazardous areas. Not to mention gas stations or aircraft refuelling and hangars.
As the range and demands placed by portable electrical and electronic applications expand rapidly, IEC International Standards for portable sealed secondary batteries are being regularly reviewed. Two International Standards that focus on a key aspect of secondary sealed batteries, safety, have been published.
Ever run the washing machine, ironed a shirt and blown a fuse?
It is with great sadness and regret that the IEC learnt of the passing of Wayne P. Klug on 25 January 2017, at the age of 56, after a long-lasting fight with cancer. He leaves behind his wife Nancy and three daughters.
The oil and gas industry sector has faced many challenges in recent years. The severe drop in oil prices has affected companies and economies throughout the world. In parallel, the need to for developed and developing countries to tackle climate change, introduce cleaner energy sources – renewables such as solar and wind, hydro – into the mix and become more energy efficient has seen some significant results when the Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.
Demand for the use of solid state technology for general and specific lighting applications continues to grow at a very rapid pace. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in particular, on the market since the early 1960s, have been extremely successful in recent years. Mostly used as indicator lamps for electronic devices in the early days, they are now increasingly used in a wide range of domestic, commercial and industrial applications.
Low-voltage switch mode power supplies (SMPS) can be found in innumerable applications in IT equipment, vehicles, battery chargers, etc. A second edition of IEC 61204-7, an International Standard addressing safety requirements for SMPS was recently published. This Standard is also available as an Extended version (EXV).
Why are home use medical and wellness devices drawing so much attention and growing at an explosive rate? It could be argued that this results from the nexus of the Internet of Things (IoT), the “super-aging” of societies around the world (which is directly tied to patients wanting to be comfortable in their home environments instead of in sterile impersonal clinical environments), the portability of devices, the growth of wearable technologies, the increasing costs of healthcare and the huge regulatory burden/costs of obtaining approval by national regulators. Also, there has been significant growth in the number of standards and regulations that apply to medical devices, especially around software, health informatics, privacy and security issues.
The interoperation between electrical and mechanical energies has existed for a long time. In standardization and conformity assessment, the need to provide a holistic solution to cover both is vital for industry and the community. While this may have been a given for most industries, the Ex sector has, for many years, focused exclusively on electrical equipment for its standardization and conformity assessment needs. This is no longer the case.
We are more mobile today than ever before and expect to be able to carry out many daily activities outside the home or office. Having embraced the era of information overload, we want access to whatever information we need anytime and anywhere.
Poor water quality and water scarcity continue to pose a major threat to human health and are responsible for millions of deaths every year. Extracting water and treating used and contaminated waters requires complex installations which depend almost entirely on electrical and electronic systems and equipment. Standardization work by many IEC Technical Committees (TCs) and Subcommittees (SCs) is essential to ensure that people across the world have access to appropriate water supply and water treatment.
Long gone are the days when you had to be home and in front of your television to watch major sports events such as the Olympics or a football championship. Today you have access to broadcast on your computer, tablet or smartphone, and you can even experience virtual reality (VR).
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is increasingly used in locations that need constant monitoring – banks, casinos, airports, military installations or shopping malls, to name but a few. A great number of municipalities around the world have installed CCTV cameras in sensitive areas of their cities to deter criminality and monitor traffic. Many industry sectors resort to video surveillance in their manufacturing processes. And video cameras are playing a major role in the monitoring and management of explosive (Ex) areas.
Over the last five years, the cost of renewable power generation technologies has dropped while the technology has improved. Biomass for power, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind can all now provide electricity competitively compared to fossil fuel-fired power generation, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), long associated with gaming and entertainment only, are really developing into essential tools for a number of industry sector: healthcare, education, architecture, urban design and civil engineering, tourism, sports viewing, film and so forth. The explosive (Ex) industry is also beginning to see the advantages of using AR/VR in their daily operations. The mining sector in particular has a lot to gain from adopting these new technologies.
As sales of personal electric vehicles (EVs), and in particular of plug-in EVs, expand rapidly, trust in the safety and reliability of charging equipment components is important for users. Several IEC Technical Committees (TCs) and Subcommittees (SCs) develop International Standards for all components in the EV charging chain. The latest one prepared for residential charging installations has just been published.
What is conformity assessment (CA)? Why is it important? Why is it inevitably linked to standards? Does it really add value to products and systems? Does it have a role in fighting counterfeit goods? Does it facilitate access to markets and trade? Those are just a few of the many questions that were raised during the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) Workshop on Conformity Assessment that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on 1-2 December 2015.
Contrary to preconceived ideas, hazardous areas are not the “privilege” of a few specific industry sectors. They can be found almost anywhere at any given time when certain conditions leading to the formation of an explosive atmosphere are met.
Imagine contact lenses which proactively monitor the blood glucose levels of your tears and transfer that information to a doctor’s mobile device, or an intelligent management system for asthma, lower back issues or a smart health patch which keeps tabs on a patient’s vitals? Some of these devices are being developed, while some are already in use.
Robotic‑assisted surgery involves a surgeon using a computer‑assisted electromechanical device to carry out complex and technically demanding medical procedures on a patient. The value of surgical robotic tools lies in their role as machines that extend the capabilities and precision of the surgeon, rather than ones that replace human skills.
The safety of nuclear power plants (NPPs) and ensuring installations are safe to operate over their entire lifetime is of global concern to people, the industry and regulators. International standardization organizations cooperate to develop the best possible International Standards to achieve this. The IEC and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have harmonized in a single double logo International Standard qualification practices formerly given in two distinct publications.
Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), the ability of electronic and electrical systems or components to work reliably and safely when they are close together is crucial in many domains, in particular in the medical environment.
In our mobile world, we carry our lives in our portable devices and expect to be able to access information anytime, anywhere. On a train, in a shop, out walking, we surf the net, communicate through social media and messaging and listen to music on our smart phones. We have also entered the age of continual self-monitoring, be it the number of steps we take, our heart rate, glucose levels or sleeping patterns, because it can help improve our lives and just because we can.
The IEC extends its warmest congratulations to two IEC experts, Derek Johns of New Zealand and Vimal Mahendru of India. They recently received top honours from their respective countries.
Is there a time of day or night when we do not rely on electrical or electronic devices in one way or another? Home and workplace are obviously full of appliances, devices and equipment that help us in our daily professional tasks and domestic chores. And with the ever growing number of wearables with us at all times, everything’s connected. Our reliance on electronics seems to be a 24/7 affair.
Do you realize that your local bakery may be a potentially hazardous location? In fact any area where flour, sugar, or any other type of powder is stored or processed is a potential risk area. Your kitchen as well, if you think of it, since you’re bound to regularly use a wide variety of ingredients in powder form.
On the one hand, energy efficiency is a new way of life that requires behavioural changes on the consumer’s part. On the other, the pressure is on the manufacturers of electrical equipment and devices to produce goods that consume as little energy as possible.
The end of year season presents lighting designers and individuals with the opportunity to give free rein to their creative imagination and bring a festive atmosphere to towns, buildings and homes in many countries. The range of lighting equipment now available offers great flexibility for dazzling effects whilst keeping power consumption in check and improving safety thanks to more energy-efficient systems. Standardization work by IEC Technical Committee (TC) 34 and its Subcommittees (SCs) makes this possible.
The recent crash of a Russian airliner has highlighted the difficulty of protecting civil aviation against deadly acts of violence. Russian officials have established that an explosive device caused the crash. Indications point to deliberate human interference rather than to ineffective technical security systems. The IEC develops many International Standards for technical systems and actions that enhance security for the air transport industry.
The safety of food products is a primary concern for the food industry, the authorities and consumers. Over the years it has improved to such an extent that food poisoning outbreaks have become increasingly rare in many countries. This is the result of major improvement in the food safety management system from producers and the processing industry all the way to consumers. IEC International Standards developed for equipment and systems used along the entire chain play a central role in this process.
Public swimming pools rely on a wide range of equipment, most of it controlled electrically or electronically in one way or another. Users take a safe and clean swimming environment for granted and are generally unaware of the hidden aspects of swimming pool installations. To have a better understanding of all the systems needed to ensure hundreds of thousands enjoy a swim in the best possible conditions every year, e-tech was granted exclusive access to the technical installations of the Varembé swimming and sports centre*, near the IEC Central Office
Connected safety and security systems and devices with remote monitoring capabilities are expanding their share of the global smart home market. A survey in the UK in July 2015 identified security as the second most important of five key drivers for the connected home, after smart energy. The BI Intelligence research company estimates that by 2019 home security systems will account for 38% of the connected home market.
The February 2015 condensate leak on the Gudrun offshore platform, in the North Sea, highlighted many lessons learned from other incidents and the importance of functional safety. It also revealed some lessons for many practitioners in the functional safety and asset integrity fields. IEC-developed International Standards on functional safety play a central role in many industries and processes.
In our post-9/11 world, safety and security have been top priorities. We want safety and security at all times. From applications on our smartphones to complex electrical and electronic security systems in airports, from the baby monitors we install in our homes to state-of-the-art access controls in industrial plants, we try to cover and protect all aspects of our lives. But threats are still there, lurking and ready to pounce when we least expect it.
The drone as we know it today began life in the 1800s and was originally used for target practice to train military personnel. Now, they are increasingly available for less than USD 1 000 in the consumer market, and their potential development in commercial and leisure applications is slowly replacing the public perception of their use as tools for military operations abroad.
In an age of innovation and constant technological evolution, a wide variety of affordable, easy-to-use power tools allow many people to maintain their homes and gardens themselves rather than calling in a professional. At the same time, professionals are also making the most of the improved and new electric tools.
When buying a new electrical appliance, who pays much attention to the cord – or to the control switch, for that matter? Customers tend to focus on the design, the look, the size, the price or the overall performance of the product. Cords and switches, seen as necessary appendages that don’t merit close examination, are seldom, if ever, part of the decision-making process that leads to the purchase of household goods. Consumers usually take it for granted that the device they acquire is safe and reliable, and will perform without any problems.
The development of automation throughout the 20th century brought enormous changes to the industrial world: some jobs disappeared, others underwent major transformation, new ones were created and, most importantly, the interaction between man and machine was altered forever. In recent years, the emergence and proliferation of robots on the factory floor has raised automation to a new level.
For many of us, switching a light on or off is such a routine task that we take it for granted. With the exception of extreme situations – major power outages – we’ve never had to worry about lighting in our homes offices, factories, streets, and so forth. But there are still millions of people with limited or no access to electricity who don’t have that privilege. The United Nations have declared 2015 the International Year of Light to raise awareness on the central role played by light-based technologies in providing solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.
Fast-evolving technologies and a wealth of electronic devices and equipment on the market have dramatically altered people’s lives in recent years. All facets of life have been affected by these changes; home chores, office and factory work, education, leisure activities and commercial endeavours have at some point all embraced a new technology.
What makes a person buy a certain type of equipment, a particular brand? What are the criteria that come into play?
Since 2007, IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) has been managing the risks surrounding medical electrical equipment. Its task has become more important as technological changes and enhancements have radically increased the complexity of the sector.
It happens to every parent at some point. Your child is playing with her toys in the living room. You step out of the room for a minute, knowing that the room has been baby proofed, feeling confident that nothing could happen. Then you come back and see that your curious little one is chewing on the television cord. A raft of nightmare scenarios pass before your eyes as you imagine what could have happened while you were gone. Then you shake yourself and remove the cord from your child’s grasp. You are able to do this because IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, tests and certifies the safety of audio/video equipment.
A few weeks ago, as I underwent eye surgery, I realized that I was much more worried about the outcome than about the operation itself. Why was that? Given the numerous problems caused by poor eyesight since I was a kid, I had difficulties imagining a world that wasn’t hazy and out of focus, a world in which I would see sharp outlines and well-defined silhouettes. As for surgery, I had total confidence in the skills of my ophthalmologist. I trust him.
A BBC News item dated 30 December 1986 announced that more than 200 canaries still employed in UK mines were to be made gradually redundant throughout 1987. The article stated that “new electronic detectors will replace the birds because they are said to be cheaper in the long run and more effective in indicating the presence of pollutants in the air otherwise unnoticed by miners.”
Offshore oil platforms, refineries, shipyards, gas and oil tankers operate 24 hours a day. Most human activities may go at a reduced pace at night but the tanker will continue to trace its route across the ocean, the rig will continue to drill or pump oil, and refineries never stop refining crude oil. Night-shift crews need powerful and reliable lighting to be able to work when it is dark. Lighting fixtures, as with any other piece of equipment or device used in hazardous areas, have to be explosion-proof.
When buying a new electrical appliance, who pays much attention to the cable – or to the control switch, for that matter? Customers tend to focus on the design, the look, the size, the price or the overall performance of the product. They are likely to overlook other aspects and see the cable and the switches as necessary appendages that don’t merit close examination. They usually take it for granted that the device they acquire is safe and reliable, and will perform without any problems.
Pipelines, tanks and vessels that store or transport potentially explosive substances are frequently subjected to extreme climatic conditions and huge temperature variations. Confronted with the problem of protecting equipment from freezing or ensuring that products were stored at the correct temperature, engineers were quick to find a solution: electric trace-heating cables.
Batteries are used in numerous devices and their safety determines the lifespan and faultless operation of countless products. With converging technologies and the advent of horizontal standards comes the need to regularly review, compare and update the standards that define safety requirements in order to ensure that testing and conformity assessment processes are coordinated. This is what is currently happening for the standards issued by IEC TC 108 and IEC SC 21A.
IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Testing and Certification for Electro-technical Equipment and Components, is a truly international conformity assessment system. The IECEE CB Scheme opens up access to the global market, while the IECEE CB-FCS (Full Certification Scheme) takes testing and certification a step further with a complete factory inspection process. IECEE is also the exclusive provider of the PV (photovoltaic) Quality Seal and Quality Mark. Technological innovations and environmental issues have prompted the setting up of additional services to meet specific demands from industry and governments worldwide.
Oil and gas refining, chemical processing, coal mining, paper and textile manufacturing, grain handling and storage, sugar refining. These are very different industrial sectors that have one thing in common. They all have hazardous areas in which flammable liquids, vapours, gases or combustible dusts present a fire or explosion hazard. The use of on-site electrical equipment just adds another spark to this dangerous mix. IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres, is globally recognized as helping companies tame hazards in Ex (explosive) areas.
In commercial and office buildings, energy is consumed by appliances and equipment, from computers and copiers to water coolers and lighting. Heating and cooling equipment – often out of sight – is another major source of energy consumption.
China has seen huge economic changes in the past three decades. The state began to reform its economy at the end of the 1970s, shifting from a state-planned to a market economy. This move gave many industry sectors free rein to develop and grow, locally and internationally. Chinese industry is now a major player in the global market. China is also the country that has the world’s largest population.
Sunny days. Milder temperatures. No doubt spring is back. If you have a garden, it’s time to resume all the great outdoor activities the winter interrupted. Mowing the lawn, pruning the trees, fixing things around the house, uncovering and filling the pool (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and getting the barbecue ready are some of the tasks to be performed before you can relax and enjoy the good life in your garden.
In April, IEC TC (Technical Committee) 31 and SC (Subcommittee) 31M were proud to announce the publication of ISO/IEC 80079-34, the first standard to be developed by this unique subcommittee.
Ex or explosive atmospheres are not restricted to oil refineries, offshore oil rigs, gas plants or mines. Many other industries also operate in potentially hazardous environments: sugar refineries, flour mills, grain silos and the paper and textile sectors, to name a few. Ex risks also exist in transportation.
In January 2011 the United Nations, via UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), recommended the IEC and IECEx, one of the three IEC Conformity Assessment Systems, as the world’s best practice model for the verification of conformity to International Standards.
The boom in air and road traffic in the past 40 years or so has been determinant in the development of electronics in those sectors. Today, all modes of transportation rely on electronics for navigation, communication or engine-control management as well as for entertainment. Electronic devices and systems are designed to bring more safety, reliability and comfort to pilots, drivers and passengers alike.
It is safe to assume that there is at least one electrical appliance in every room of your house or apartment. If nothing else, there is at least a lamp.