Survey of standards related to gas detectors

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Recent events both on- and off-shore shine a bright light on the need for attention to safety and to hazard reduction, prevention, and mitigation. Errant combustible or toxic gases can injure and kill quickly. Therefore, mitigation of these hazards must be fast and sure.

Globally, governmental and regional authorities take gas detection and system integration very seriously and require that the petroleum industry use gas detection devices that comply with certain standards.

Safety standards can provide the backbone of a well-designed life safety plan to help assure continuous safe and proper operation. Therefore, standards should play a key role as engineers design and execute gas-detection life-safety projects.

How do these standards improve safety and help users make informed decisions? And how can companies with facilities around the world use standards as they determine the most effective safety solution for their applications?

Performance Standards in the World Areas

A standard can be described as a consensus document that defines minimum criteria for the determination of good engineering practice. Standards usually address which safety devices and systems should be included in a life safety plan, they determine to what performance levels each device should be tested, and they can include where to install and how to maintain each device. It is especially important to note that performance approval is required if a gas detector has a hazardous-location rating and if it is intended to provide warning of a potential explosion hazard and, in some cases, to initiate automatic or manual protective actions.

Standards are becoming harmonised worldwide. Each geographical world area has industry safety standards that address the specific needs presented by local regulatory agencies. In general, companies are familiar with the local standards to which they must comply. As many companies have global operations, and because there is some common ground among the standards, a good practice is to find safety products that have been third-party certified to multiple standards. What are the key standards for gas detectors? Table 1 lists the main world-area standards to which protection types are tested and certified.

For combustible gas detector criteria, there is little to differentiate between FM 6310, 6320 (used mainly in the US) and the CSA C22.2 #152 (used mainly in Canada) — both are closely related to ANSI/ISA 12.13.01-2000. In those countries (mostly in Europe) that have adopted the IEC standards, the IEC 60079-29 Series contains not only the hazardous locations requirements but also the gas detection performance requirements for both point and open path combustible gas detectors.

In offshore toxic gas applications, the ISA standard is generally the defacto global standard for most world areas. Standards EN 50402, EN 45544, and EN 50104 are used in Europe and other world areas.

Gas detectors are a critical part of the overall safety system. Therefore, all standards require the gas detector, the controller, and the output for the performance approval. Output is often the annunciation device. Be aware, though, that in many applications when a gas detector is connected to the process automation system it is not in full compliance with the requirements of FM6310,20 based on ANSI/ISA 12.13.01 or IEC60079-29 — the process automation systems are not evaluated against these standards.

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