Without a doubt, factories and warehouses that store and handle dangerous ingredients are generally considered hazardous areas. They can pose a serious threat to the workers’ safety and have a high chance of leaving the facilities in a severely damaged state if anything goes wrong.

A case in point is the deadly explosion in a sugar factory in Georgia in 2008, killing 14 people and severely injuring 14 others. The explosion was due to combustible sugar dust that had accumulated throughout the factory premises. 

Fines, production losses, and damage to lives and property caused a tremendous financial strain to the company, which could’ve been avoided if necessary precautions were taken.

It’s occupational hazards like this that have given rise to the need for special video equipment such as explosion-proof cameras. Ideally set up as manufacturing camera systems, the technology can help your organization maintain safety, avoid wayward disasters, and monitor processes and specific areas within your property.

This article will identify specific locations where common types of hazards occur and break down the safety features you should look for in an explosion-proof camera used in a video monitoring system.

What are Hazardous Areas?

Hazardous areas are “hotspots” for accidents. Oil and gas plants, sugar refineries, and food and chemical processing plants, among others, are considered hazardous and can have hazards that require video monitoring because they contain flammable elements that can trigger fires or explosions.

A hazardous area or location (HazLoc) can fall under any of three classifications.

  • Class I: This refers to locations where sufficient amounts of flammable gases or vapors in the air can ignite and explode. Hydrogen, methane, and gasoline are common examples. 
  • Class II: This type of location is hazardous due to combustible dust clouds, just like what caused the explosion in the sugar factory in Georgia.  
  • Class III: Class III locations have hazards in the form of fire-causing fibers, such as cotton lint trapped in clothes dryers.

As part of safety standards, businesses operating within hazardous industries must acquire ATEX (Appareils destinés à être utilisés en ATmosphères Explosives, translated from French as Equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres) and IECEx (International Electrotechnical Commission Explosive) certifications. 

These certifications test industrial video surveillance system equipment, such as surveillance trailers, to ensure they work safely in explosive environments, encouraging businesses to act responsibly in tackling the risks of accidents or injuries in hazardous areas.

5 Must-Have Explosion-Proof Camera Features for Hazardous Areas

Explosion-proof cameras are very useful in hazardous environments. Their special build prevents electrical components from starting fires and explosions to capture video footage even in highly combustible areas. The recording allows you to mobilize rescue teams and provides a valuable piece of evidence that can help facilitate investigations and insurance claims afterward.

When looking to get explosion-proof cameras, these features are a must for monitoring hazardous locations.

1. Explosion-proof enclosure or casing

The mechanisms of explosion-proof camera enclosures are twofold.

On the one hand, they’re made of durable, reinforced materials like fiberglass polyester, aluminum, or stainless steel. On the other hand, the housing has features that purge combustible gases and prevent them from getting into the enclosure.

Aim for an IP66 rating, as this means the casing has full protection against dust and similar particles.

2. Reinforced explosion-proof mounts

An explosion-proof camera will typically be supported by brackets welded together that can hold up to five times the camera‘s weight, keeping it in place and preventing it from being toppled during critical moments.

To protect the wiring, it passes through a flame-proof pipe and connects to the electricity box, making for a convenient and well-designed installation and mounting system.

3. Closed-loop positioning system

The slightest deviation in a video camera’s original position can make all the difference in ensuring that everything that transpires within hazardous areas is caught on video. Smart closed-loop positioning systems have excellent use in fire and explosion-proof cameras, as these are configured to return to the same angle without any delay.

4. Tempered glass viewing window with optional wiper

In areas where flames or fluids can blur the surroundings, capturing the best image possible requires high-grade materials like tempered glass and a wiper on the viewing window.

Tempered glass, also known as toughened glass, can take extreme pressure of at least 10,000psi (pounds per square inch) so it won’t succumb to breakage. The wiper is very similar to the one on your car’s windshield, providing a clean optical window that enables explosion-proof cameras to capture razor-sharp images.

5. Built-in heater

Moisture can build up around the lens for a couple of reasons. Substandard cameras may have lenses that are not properly sealed. Lenses with faulty sealings won’t turn out clear images, let alone prevent the moisture from entering its internals, rendering the camera system unusable. Extreme temperatures in hazardous environments can also cause condensation.

With explosion-proof cameras, fogging or condensation on the lens is never a problem, thanks to clever hardware like heaters or blowers. These mechanisms help regulate your security camera’s temperature internally by dissipating moisture.

This Way to a Danger-Free Zone

Business owners are responsible for keeping workers out of harm’s way by complying with safety regulations and establishing danger-free zones. These efforts also have significant impacts on the profitability of the company, as the business can operate in full swing without any costly expenses from property damage and staff injuries due to accidents.

A danger-free work environment will have various essential moving parts, including explosion-proof cameras and top-of-the-line video monitoring solutions to cover potentially hazardous areas. Get in touch with IVC Co for inquiries or a product demo.