Plenty of commercial facilities have areas where lighting fixtures can come into contact with hazardous materials. These can be flammable, combustible, or ignitable materials, gases, or vapors. These areas can be at risk of fire or even explosion if the lighting fixtures can’t withstand the abnormal conditions.
So, you definitely don’t want to make the wrong choices.
Selecting LED lighting specifically designed for hazardous locations is critical for the safety and security of both people and property. In this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to recommend the right LED lights for hazardous location lighting.
What Types of Industries Require Hazardous Location Lighting?
It’s easy to identify some target industries. They work with flammable gases or vapors, flammable liquids, combustible dusts, ignitable fibers, or other substances. This is true of chemical plants, oil/gas refineries, and pulp and paper or steel mills. Any other manufacturing applications that involve high temperatures or combustible materials would apply as well.
Some companies have storage areas or other facilities that need hazardous location lighting, even if they’re not one of those common industries. For instance, wastewater treatment plants use liquid gas. Many agricultural products like flour are highly combustible. And even a seemingly “clean” facility where clothing is manufactured can generate dust fibers.
The good news is you don’t have to guess. There are industry standards that identify the abnormal conditions that call for hazardous location lighting.
What Industry Standards Apply?
To be sure the right lighting fixtures are used within hazardous settings, various industry groups and regulatory bodies have established standards.
- The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a nonprofit focused on fire, electrical and related hazards. Virtually every building, process, service, design, and installation is affected by NFPA’s 275+ codes and standards.
- The NFPA codes related to electrical wiring and equipment are the S. National Electrical Code (NEC) and the Canadian equivalent, the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC). These codes classify risk levels for hazardous location lighting.
- Finally, the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor enforces regulations to ensure safe and healthy workplaces.
New and existing facilities need to operate in accordance with these codes, standards, and regulations. The NEC has created a classification system to identify when hazardous location lighting is needed.
What Environments Require Hazardous Location Lighting?
Both the NEC and CEC have adopted standards which classify risk levels for hazardous location lighting. These standards identify three broad classes based on what is present in the environment, and then groups for the type of material:
Class I: Locations where flammable gases/vapors are present in quantities that can ignite if they come into contact with open flames or electrical sparks:
- Group A: Acetylene
- Group B: Hydrogen
- Group C: Ethylene
- Group D: Propane
Class II: Locations where combustible dusts are present:
- Group E: Metal Dusts
- Group F: Carbonaceous Dusts
- Group G: Non-Conductive Dusts (these include plastic, wood, grain, flour, etc.)
Within these three classes, hazardous lighting locations are further broken down into two divisions. Each is based on the level of exposure of the hazardous material. For example:
- Division 1: Ignitable elements are present regularly or at periodic times during normal operations, or they may be released with any regular maintenance or equipment malfunction.
- Division 2: Ignitable elements are present but are contained and controlled with positive ventilation and other systems.
Of course, lighting fixtures are just one element of an electrical system. The facility will want to be sure their conduits and switches are also up to code. They should meet the standards of the highest-rated fixture installed. Otherwise, the whole system is out of compliance.
It’s also smart for customers to think ahead to how areas of the facility may be used in the future. A standard storage area could be used for chemicals or compressed gas at some point. It is better to err on the side of caution and specify hazardous location lighting now.
What if I'm Still Not Sure Which Class, Division and Group Applies?
When in doubt, reach out to the facility owner’s OSHA representative. On site inspection is one of their regular functions. They will be familiar with the facility and what activities occur there. They can help identify exactly what class, division, and group the hazards fall under, if any.
What’s the Risk of Using Standard Lighting Vs. Hazardous Location Lighting?
Lighting that isn’t designed for use in a hazardous location opens up the company to a number of risks and potential costs:
Health & Safety
The biggest risk is that of explosion or a fire. Fortunately, LED lights in particular have fewer components that can cause or ignite a fire when exposed to flammable gases or vapors.
When there is a fire in a lighting system, it often starts within the conduit system. Some conduits have been in plants forever. Those may have issues with moisture condensation. Shorting or arcing within the conduit system instantly transmits all the way down the line to the fixture. Fires or explosions from the wrong fixtures, conduits and switches can cause catastrophic damage to people and property.
Non-compliance with standards can lead to stiff fines – but that’s just the beginning. If the wrong fixtures are installed, they will have to replaced with ones that meet code. Lights installed in hazardous locations must comply with OSHA, NFPA, or NEC/CEC standards by law. Companies caught with non-compliant lights in hazardous locations may even find themselves subject to lawsuits, which we don’t need to tell you can be very, very expensive.
Challenging environments call for lights that are sturdier. They need to be capable of standing up to hazardous materials while still providing as much light as possible. Even when there is low risk of fire or explosion, fixtures that are not designed to withstand hazardous locations are simply less durable. Over time they will require more frequent, costly replacement.
Litetronics Hazardous Location High Bay
A great way to avoid these problems altogether is to choose fixtures specifically designed for hazardous locations. For example, Litetronics’ LED Hazardous Location High Bay is suitable for many hazardous settings and is approved for Class I, Division 2, Groups A, B, C, and D environments.
The fixture protects against possible power surges and sparks by securing all wiring within a sealed chamber and is corrosion-resistant with tempered glass for added durability. Litetronics’ LED Hazardous Location High Bay is also IP66-rated to protect against the intrusion of dust, heavy seas, or powerful jets of water.
See for yourself in this video:
When selecting hazardous location lighting, you’ll want to be sure to choose a fixture that is suitable for the class, division, and group of your facility’s environment.
Hazardous locations aren’t the place to skimp on safety or standards. Litetronics’ LED Hazardous Location High Bay delivers the utmost in energy efficiency, ensuring bright, cost-saving, and low-maintenance lighting that will support your customer’s high-hazard operations for years to come.
By: Archie Gambrel, Regional Sales Manager, Priority Solutions Group