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Confined space safety can be a daunting and often expensive responsibility. The good news is that confined space lighting is neither of these two. In fact, it is super easy and inexpensive to properly outfit your workers with the appropriate confined space lighting. It’s as simple as providing intrinsically safe flashlights or work lights.
Let’s talk about why you need intrinsically safe flashlights to safely enter a confined space.
A confined space is by definition a hazardous location. It is an enclosed space with limited egress which might contain the presence of an explosive or combustible gas. The most likely explosive gas to be present is methane.
The common classification for such a hazardous location is Class I Division 1.
This classification comes from the National Electric Code (NEC). They define a Class I Division 1 hazardous location as an area, “where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases or vapors, or flammable liquids.”
The threat here is plain enough. In such locations, there is a potential or risk of igniting these flammable gases, vapors, or liquids. This would, of course, cause an explosion.
Any piece of equipment—a flashlight, work light, or gas monitor—that generates heat or electric energy can be the source of ignition. This is why such equipment needs to be intrinsically safe and approved for use in a Class I Division 1 environment.
An intrinsically safe flashlight or work light for confined space entry is one that is designed and built with specialized components. These components limit the amount of electrical energy exposed to the atmosphere. The intent of such an intrinsically safe design is to prevent sparks or “hot spots” that could ignite a combustible gas.
To be more specific, intrinsically safety flashlights or work lights contain components “…incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy under normal or abnormal conditions to cause ignition of a specific hazardous atmospheric mixture in its most easily ignited concentration.”
Indeed, “equipment that is certified as intrinsically safe is not capable of releasing the minimum ignition energy necessary to ignite the type and temperature class of gases, over the ambient operating temperature range to which the certification applies.” (GFG)
All of this means that such intrinsically safe confined space lights will not cause an explosion.
How does one know if a flashlight or work light is intrinsically safe?
In the USA, flashlights and work lights used in confined spaces are certified to be intrinsically safe by Underwriters Laboratories or UL. The appropriate approvals will be listed on the flashlight or work light directly or on its packaging.
Your confined space monitors are intrinsically safe. Why would you use flashlights or work lights that are not intrinsically safe? Any safety provided by the gas monitor’s certified circuitry is canceled out by the use of non-certified lighting.
Think of it like this. You don’t want the equipment meant to keep you safe by illuminating your work area, to put you in harms way. And if the lighting you are using is not intrinsically safe, it is doing just that. It is putting your workers at risk of igniting combustible gases.
So to help you choose wisely, we have provided a list of our two most popular intrinsically safe confined space lights we offer. One of them is a work light, one is a head mounted light, and the other is a flashlight. You can also check out our confined space lighting collection.