Confined Space Lighting In Hazardous Areas Using LED Portable Light from Wolf Safety
Published 29 Apr 2020
Lighting Confined Spaces In Hazardous Area Workplaces
uploaded by Chris Dodds | Sales & Marketing Manager with Thorne & Derrick International
David Lyon, Sales Manager with Wolf Safety Lamp, was approached by one of Europe’s largest passenger airlines requiring ATEX lighting in a confined space as they needed to safely illuminate the interior of a jet airliner’s fuel tank.
David accepted the challenge and spoke with the relevant department about their exact requirements given the nature of the application to reach the most reliable and safe lighting solution certifed to the correct hazardous area classification.
Specifically he was asked to provide a safe ATEX certified hands free lighting solution for maintenance staff carrying out vital inspection, maintenance and repair operations inside the potentially explosive atmosphere of the aircrafts’ fuel tanks.
This meant that routine operations were taking too long to complete and pressure was mounting to reduce aircraft turnaround time.
A certified portable hazardous area tank lighting solution was needed which would supply much higher quality, brighter lighting within the fuel tanks and would leave operators’ hands free to concentrate on the inspection and repair work. The light source must have the correct ATEX certification to counter the potential risk of explosion and take into account the physical challenges of the aircraft’s structure, including the narrow entrances and confined nature of the tanks themselves.
The Confined Space Lighting Challenge
The airline’s current practice involved technical staff using handheld torches as they crawled and worked inside the pitch-black tanks. This had two major disadvantages:
- The torches simply weren’t bright enough to illuminate the confined space tank
- Operators need both hands to manoeuvre through the confined space of the tanks and carry out maintenance and repair tasks
Hazards of Airplane Fuel Tank Entry | Chemical & Physical
A large percentage of the work involved in properly inspecting and modifying airplane fuel tanks and their associated systems must be done in the interior of the tanks. Performing the necessary tasks requires inspection and maintenance personnel to physically enter the tank, where many environmental hazards exist. These potential hazards include fire and explosion, toxic and irritating chemicals, oxygen deficiency, and the confined nature of the fuel tank itself. In order to prevent related injuries, operator and repair station maintenance organizations must develop specific procedures for identifying, controlling, or eliminating the hazards associated with fuel-tank entry.
Maintenance personnel who enter airplane fuel tanks to inspect or modify them face several potential hazards. These include exposure to flammable and toxic chemicals, potentially harmful atmospheric conditions, and the confined interior structure of the tank. Operators and repair stations can protect maintenance personnel from these hazards by developing safety procedures for fuel-tank entry personnel. To successfully prevent related injuries, both operators and maintenance personnel must understand the following:
- Fuel-tank hazards
- Preparation for entry
- Conditions required for entry
- Emergency response plan
The Lighting Solution
Following an on-site assessment and testing inside the aircraft the ideal solution was found to be a lighting kit for each aircraft containing 3 linkable LED luminaires to provide bright ambient lighting for the tanks with 2 handheld leadlamps for close up inspection work.
The luminaires would be suspended (by the hanging straps which are supplied with the lamps) along the length of the fuel tank, at 2 metre intervals.
The first lamp in the chain would have a 10 metre cable to allow it to be connected it to the 110V power source outside the aircraft. Subsequent lights would have 2 metre cables, allowing them to be positioned exactly where needed whilst keeping cabling to a minimum within the confined space.
The handheld leadlamps would be hooked up inside the tanks and taken down for close inspection work where, and as, required.
Confined Space Lighting
The confined space lighting kit consisted of:
1 x Wolf LX-400 LinkEx™ LED 360° 110V ATX Linkable Temporary Luminaire – 10 metre cable
2 x Wolf LX-400 LinkEx™ LED 360° 110V ATX Linkable Temporary Luminaire – 2 metre cable
2 x Wolf SP-600 ATEX LED Inspection Leadlamp – 10 metre cables
Pictured: Wolf LinkEx | Temporary Portable Lighting for Confined Spaces with Hazardous Areas & Explosive Atmospheres
The benefits from the new portable lighting kits were immediately felt with the maintenance team being able to move and work hands free in the now brightly lit confined space of the fuel tank. The high quality light from the 360° diffused lamps lessened shadowing substantially and reduced the difficulty and time taken to carry out work tasks – the result of which is a reduced aircraft turnaround time and all resulting cost benefits to the airline. Three hazardous area lighting kits were purchased initially by the airline, before rolling out the solution to the rest of the fleet for use in confined spaces.
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