As an increasing number of businesses turn to the second hand forklift truck market, safety specialist Pyroban warns of the dangers of buying used explosion proof equipment and why an EX-ASA safety inspection is so important.
"There is nothing more dangerous than buying and using a poorly maintained explosion proof forklift in a hazardous area. Unfortunately, buyers are faced with increasing numbers through auction websites or through dealers and traders." warns Darren Boiling, Customer Services Manager for safety specialist Pyroban.
Pyroban provides explosion proof modifications for the world’s leading forklift truck brands so that equipment can be used in potentially explosive atmospheres. This involves assessing every single component on a forklift and re-engineering it to prevent sources of ignition such as sparks or heat.
"When Pyroban converts a truck, it undergoes stringent tests which it must pass in order to be certified as ATEX compliant. As soon as it leaves our factory it is then the user’s ultimate responsibility to ensure it is properly maintained" he adds, explaining that the dangers are also present on equipment such as access platforms, scrubber driers or cranes.
Industries that use explosion proof equipment are typically chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical or similar high risk industries. However, explosion proof equipment can be required by any company that handles flammable material, such as food and drink, logistics, cosmetics or waste management businesses.
"Despite an attractive price, some Pyroban trucks in the second hand market are so old they are not even ATEX compliant" explains Darren. "But with most forklift contracts lasting 5-7 years we are now seeing increasing numbers built after 2000 that are ATEX compliant in the second hand market.
"This is where it could become dangerous as some dealers do not understand what they are selling. What may appear to be an explosion proof truck may be completely unsafe and cause an explosion" he warns. "Even if it is safe, how does the dealer know if it meets the specification? What Zone, T class, Gas Group is it built for?"
Whether a company owns, leases or hires any type of forklift truck, there is an obligation across Europe to ensure that it holds a valid ‘annual’ report of thorough examination. If the truck is explosion proof, there should also be a series of safety system checks that should be carried out by a competent person.
An Annual Safety Audit by a Pyroban inspector is the best way to be sure that the explosion proof safety system is still safe. Known as an EX-ASA™ and carried out onsite, the audit looks at the safety system in detail with thorough inspection of all safety critical components, checking there are no sources of ignition such as heat, sparks or other forms of energy. A Pyroban certificate is awarded if the truck is deemed safe and passes all checks. After 3 years of operation, the highly detailed EX-ASA+ inspection may also be required.
Pyroban advises that an EX-ASA is carried out each year from new, but also advises that buyers and sellers of used Pyroban equipment should insist that an EX-ASA or EX-ASA+ is carried out before it is re-deployed in an explosive atmosphere.
"If there is an explosion resulting from the use of a second hand explosion proof truck, an investigation will look at the history, service regimes, parts used, if the engineer was trained and when it was last audited by an independent inspector". Darren adds "despite any business loss, insurance may be invalidated and it could lead to prosecution".