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Effective cable management and the use of ATEX-approved enclosures are just two of the measures that can add value to businesses and protect them from unnecessary expenditure caused by downtime. Steve Slater, Product Manager at HellermannTyton, explains how installers and specifiers can help protect the commercial sector through effective cable management, while complying with the latest legislation.
As with all installations, protection against possible fire outbreaks is at the top of business owners’ priorities with insurance fees and downtime impacting businesses. Understanding how to protect customers’ assets is key for any installer and one way to ensure the commercial sector is secure is through the use of products that comply with relevant legislation and are of the correct specification and quality.
Enclosures are one of the ways businesses can protect themselves as they provide a secure place to house potentially dangerous cabling and equipment. However, businesses must comply with important legislation to ensure their wiring is operating in the safest environment to defend against the risk of fire and explosions.
When companies perform risk assessments, they should identify what hazards exist and the next steps in managing these conditions. The European directive ATEX 94/9/CE states that it is compulsory to use ATEX-certified enclosures and equipment in potentially explosive, gaseous or dusty areas to reduce the likelihood of ignition and the danger of an explosion. Use of the correctly specified enclosures and accessories therefore offers a crucial solution to protecting electrical installations in high risk installations.
In deciding which enclosure is the best solution, there are many features to consider. Factors such as the location and the environment in which it will be installed, internal accessibility, the weight of internal equipment, operating temperatures, safety, and security requirements highlight that all enclosure requirements are different. In most general-purpose indoor and outdoor installations mild steel is usually a suitable solution.
Mild steel offers a cost-effective solution for many applications and, when used with protective powder coatings, offers ingress and impact protection to provide resistance to corrosion when used in damp or wet environments. For continually wet and harsh environments, stainless steel enclosures have much better resistance to corrosion, while Glass Reinforced Polyester (GRP) does not corrode, has good UV resistance and offers ingress and impact protection equivalent to mild and stainless steel.
One important factor when considering ATEX enclosures is that although they comply with all of the IEC directives, each requires a certificate of conformity once a modification has been made. This must be supplied by the company or person making the modification and any installation needs to be assessed to meet the requirements of the atmosphere.
Enclosures are also secure and lockable meaning access can be controlled by a select group of people within a business. As some installations can often be dangerous and difficult to manage, having a secure enclosure means commercial buildings are protected against potential fire risks and costly downtime, as well as any tampering or misuse.
The correct design and selection of cable management products is vitally important, not only for safety reasons, but for the longer term maintenance and reliability of an electrical installation. Ensuring that components are durable, have the correct ingress protection (IP) rating, resistance to corrosion, vibration and physical damage all lead to an installation that offers long term reliability, be it in a factory, hospital, office, shopping centre or school.
In addition to ATEX-approved enclosures, businesses must also adhere to amendment three of the BS7671:2008 Requirements for Electrical Installations. The changes to the IET Electrical Regulations last year were widely reported and it is vital that installers are aware and communicate the updates to customers to ensure they are complying with legislation.
The regulation BS7671 applies to all types of all electrical installations systems in a building, including those of distribution circuits and final circuits, safety services and data and communications services. Installers and specifiers therefore have a duty of care in all sectors to ensure cabling and people are not exposed to preventable risks, especially if their customers are not aware of the regulation changes.
The updated requirements outline the need for cabling near escape routes to be supported by non-combustible fasteners and fixings which are not liable to premature collapse in extreme heat. These changes mean that non-metallic cable ties, plastic wall plug fixings, plastic trunking and plastic cable clips are no longer compliant with the new regulations. Fastenings need to be tested and certificated to the recognised standards, and while installers and specifiers will now be well aware of these updates, business owners also need to understand and potentially change their existing systems.
Cable requirements for commercial installations vary from business to business and while all installations are different, installers need to ensure that they are providing the most secure solution that adheres to all relevant legislation. Not only does this provide businesses with peace of mind that their building is compliant with regulations, but it also protects them against potential fire and explosions.
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