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Process safety in explosive environments

DEKRA Product Testing

How to minimize risk factors in explosive environments?

Process safety in explosive environments

Guiding you through the maze of explosion & process safety

What does a plant audit entail? Which demands must your facility meet? And what does the safety assessment of industrial equipment, processes and substances mean? A huge range of rules, regulations, laws and other requirements are oftentimes overwhelming. Our experts have decades of experience and are happy to support you.

In many industrial processes, the presence of dusts, powders, gases or inflammable liquids poses a risk of explosion. It is the responsibility of the operator or manufacturer to evaluate the risks and to determine and implement adequate explosion protection measures.

This requires profound knowledge of the processes, the substances and, in many cases, the applicable standards and directives – such as the 1999/92/EG (ATEX 153) directive, which EU states have incorporated in their national legislation.

Planners and operators of plants, as well as equipment manufacturers, public authorities and insurance companies, rely on DEKRA’s customized solutions and long-standing expertise.

What is our expertise?

  • Carry out risk assessments and hazardous area (zone) classifications

  • Prepare systematic analysis (HAZOP)

  • Evaluate existing preventive measures

  • Identify possible ignition sources

  • Devise and audit safety statements and reports that comply with the Hazardous Incident Ordinance, when applying for approval in terms of the requirements of the German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) and German building regulations, or when applying for permits that demonstrate compliance with occupational safety regulations (BetrSichV for Germany and the Arbowet in The Netherlands)

  • Determine the necessary measures to mitigate the harmful effects of an explosion.

  • Carry out simulations of dust and gas explosions in industrial installations

  • If an explosion has occurred, provide an expert opinion (investigation of the causes and determination of necessary protection measures) and practical advice as well as technical assistance to ensure safe and fast re-start of the affected installation. Note: Only when company has not been certified by DEKRA.


When handling materials that produce dusty conditions, such as foodstuffs, powders, grain and sugar, an explosion can occur if the mixture is ignited. This can happen during processing or storage, for example in silos. Plant layout and construction should prevent explosions and accidents to protect people and processes.

For example, explosion protection must be taken into account when deciding on the type of storage and the use of special floor coatings. In dusty environments, such as grain mills and powder conveyors, explosion-proof electric motors should be used. Damp environments, such as canning environments, require the use of moisture-proof motors. Steam boilers should be located in a separate boiler house.

Plant and process safety in a chemical plant is imperative, as explosions are not uncommon. When such explosions occur, they can frequently lead to serious injuries and even death, and they can affect not only employees, but also local communities and the environment.

The causes of explosions are diverse and range from infrequent maintenance of equipment and improper storage or transportation of hazardous chemicals to insufficient training of personnel and human error in the operation of equipment. Another major cause of chemical plant explosions is a product malfunction such as a defective safety valve or warning system.

Explosions, especially relating to dust, pose a significant potential hazard in the manufacture, handling, storage and processing of pharmaceuticals. Many pharmaceutical products are in the form of fine powders and chemically rich for combustion. It is advisable to have these powders/dusts tested.

Furthermore, it is essential to implement adequate measures for explosion prevention and protection. Besides that, the very nature of substances in the pharmaceutical industry can pose a toxic risk and cause harmful effects to employees, either during processing or if the substances escape into the atmosphere.

Effective process safety management is critical in the oil and gas industry. Workers may face the risk of fire or explosion, especially due to ignition of flammable vapors or gases which may be released from wells, trucks, production equipment or surface equipment such as tanks and shale shakers. Ignition sources can include static, electrical energy sources, open flames, lightning, cutting and welding tools, hot surfaces and frictional heat.

In recent years, many explosions and accidents have occurred in automotive plants and repair shops worldwide. One was caused when sparks ignited a highly flammable aluminum powder when workers were polishing hubcaps. On another occasion, gas leaking from valves in a reheating furnace caused an explosion in a plant of a steel component supplier. Toxic fumes in a paint shop can cause an explosion when ignition occurs.

• Equipment, components and protective systems used in hazardous areas

• Dusts

• Valves and their operating gears

• Pumps

• Fans

• Screw conveyors

• Rotary feeders

• Conveyor plants

• Hydraulic systems

• Pneumatic systems

• Valves

• Couplings

• Brakes

• Lifting devices

• Mills

• Blenders

• Stirring units

• Compactors

• ATEX 153



• BImSchG

• BetrSichV

• GefStoffV

Do you have a question? Get in touch with one of our experts

Stephan Schaepman

Stephan Schaepman

DEKRA Product Testing

Meander 1051

6825 MJ Arnhem

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