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Picking the wrong fan can be dangerous

Mark-JonesUK: The Fan Manufacturers Association (FMA) has stepped up warnings that the selection of the wrong fan could put buildings and occupiers at risk.

The FMA says it has been so concerned about non-compliance with ATEX – the European legislation concerning explosive atmospheres – that it has been working with the HSE to raise the HSE’s awareness of this regulation, and to help others understand its implications. This, it says, has become particularly important since the update of the ATEX legislation in April 2016.

The HSE has asked FMA representatives to speak at a meeting in Brussels of an Administrative Cooperation Group (AdCo) which is established to help harmonise legislation and its enforcement across Europe. The FMA has been asked by the AdCo Group for ATEX to produce a guide that will identify fans not meeting the requirements of the ATEX Directive.

“Explosive environments exist in the most day-to-day situations,” says FMA chairman Mark Jones. “It’s not just obviously explosive substances such as gas that need to be considered. Dusty environments can also be at risk of explosion too, and a number of deaths have occurred over the past decade as a result of incorrect fan selection for these environments.”

ATEX is significant for businesses because it makes company directors liable for accidents which occur as the result of using the wrong type of fan in an explosive environment.

Mark Jones says: “Currently, employers are not adhering to the ATEX regulations for various reasons, and they clearly don’t understand its full implications for them. This puts building occupants at risk, and company owners potentially facing unlimited fines or even imprisonment.”

According to the FMA, one of the challenges for customers selecting fans is that currently there is no independent third-party certification for ATEX-compliant fans.

The new EN1498 Standard will help to address this issue, says the FMA, but businesses need to make themselves aware of what is available before they make the wrong choice of equipment. 

The FMA has produced a number of useful documents for building owners who feel their building contain a potentially ‘explosive environment’. These provide quick and clear guidance on the issues at hand and can be downloaded for free from the FMA section of the FETA website www.feta.co.uk/fma.

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