Expectations are high for the newly minted IEC Subcommittee 31M, Non-Electrical Equipment and Protective Systems for Explosive Atmospheres. This is the first international committee established to develop ISO/IEC dual logo standards on “non-electrical” matters relating to explosive atmospheres. According to the chair of IEC TC31, Jim Munro, this is probably the most significant event in the history of TC31 since its inception. Why would someone with over 26 years of being involved in the field of explosion-protected equipment at the national and international level be concern with mechanical equipment used in potentially explosive atmospheres. He reasons that mechanical equipment has the potential of becoming a source of ignition, something which has always been assumed with electrical products. Initial work plan for SC31M includes two key priorities: one concerns the development of a quality system based on EN 13980, Potentially explosive atmospheres – Application of quality systems, and IECEx OD005, IECEx Quality System Requirements for Manufacturers, and the second concerns the development of a standard for mining equipment based on EN 1710, Equipment and components intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres in underground mines.
The work plan will not only test the new procedures it will also highlight any unforeseeable problems that may be encountered by bringing these two groups together. More important than the creation of another committee is whether it can produce standards that become part of an accreditation system that covers both electrical and mechanical equipment used in the work place, only time will tell.