Flammable gas detection apparatus may be used whenever there is the possibility of a hazard to life or property caused by the accumulation of a flammable gas-air mixture. Such apparatus can provide a means of reducing the hazard by detecting the presence of a flammable gas and issuing suitable audible or visual warnings. Gas detectors may also be used to initiate precautionary steps (for example plant shutdown, evacuation, and operation of fire extinguishing procedures).
Apparatus may be used to monitor a gas atmosphere below the lower flammable limit in circumstances where accumulation of gas may result in a concentration of the gas/air mixture to potentially explosive levels. Performance requirements for gas detecting apparatus for such purposes are set out in IEC 60079-29-1.
However performance capability alone cannot ensure that the use of such apparatus will properly safeguard life or property where flammable gases may be present. The level of safety obtained depends heavily upon correct selection, installation, calibration and periodic maintenance of the apparatus, combined with knowledge of the limitations of the detection technique required. This cannot be achieved without responsible informed management.
An additional hazard to life is the toxicity of some gases and of the vapours of all liquids except water. It is not generally appreciated that all flammable vapours are potentially toxic at concentration levels which are very small fractions of their respective lower flammable limits. Apparatus covered by the IEC 60079-29-1 is not specifically intended for toxic protection, and additional personal protection precautions will normally be needed where personnel could be exposed to toxic vapours.
Portable apparatus covered by the IEC 60079-29-1(BS EN 60079-29-1) and the IEC 60079-29-2(BS EN 60079-29-2) commonly have additional detectors for specific toxic gases and also for oxygen deficiency. Users are cautioned that even mild oxygen deficiency may be due to toxic concentrations of some other gas or vapour, which may not be detectable or adequately detected by the apparatus in use.
General requirements for the handbook or manual of any particular flammable gas detection apparatus are specified in IEC60079-29-1. This standard provides some necessary background knowledge on the points mentioned above.
This standard has been specifically written to cover all the functions necessary to go from the need for gas detection all the way through ongoing maintenance of a successful gas detection operation.