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Comment PDF Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Avoiding Static Sparks In Hazardous Atmospheres

By Graham Tyers, Newson Gale Inc. |

Figure 1.  Many self-testing ground- ing clamps also monitor cable condition back to the designed ground point, and will alert the operator if the cable has worked tself loose or is broken We are all familiar with the effects of static electricity in everyday life — the sharp spark we experience as we approach a metal file cabinet or the crackle we feel as we remove a garment made of synthetic material. While these effects are largely harmless, in the chemical process industries (CPI), whenever flammable or combustible atmospheres are present, uncontrolled discharges of static electricity can be potentially disastrous. The National Fire Protection Assn. (NFPA; Quincy, Mass.; www.nfpa.org) tracks the causes of all industrial fires and explosions reported to U.S. fire departments. Roughly 280 incidents/year in the U.S. are attributed to static electricity, and these result in significant damage to property, lost production, injuries and even fatalities. According to the U.K. Institute of Chemical Engineers, roughly 350 incidents per year are caused by static electricity. And this figure is probably conservative, as more such incidents likely…
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