While many inspection programs do not call for or need to be concerned with hazardous environments, there are many industries and facilities that do. The first criterion for any inspection is safety. When it comes to working in hazardous areas it is essential to practice safe working habits. This starts with the instruments you will be using. To help perform ultrasound inspections in hazardous areas there are two approaches: digital or analog.
If the testing is basic “point and shoot” that does not require data logging or sound imaging, the analog Ultraprobe2000 is the tool to use. It is rated Class I, Division 1, Groups A,B,C and D.
For those inspections that need data logging and baseline route data uploading and downloading, the Ultraprobe9000 Ex is an answer since it is rated IS, CSA, FM & ATEX. The ATEX is similar to Class I, Division 1, Groups C and D.
For more sophisticated inspection capability to accommodate the entire plant including outside the hazardous areas, there are specialty kits: the Ultraprobe 10,000 Plus IS Package and the Ultraprobe 15,000 Plus IS Package. Both Plus IS packages include an Ultraprobe 9000 Ex for the hazardous areas.
Before entering an area designated as hazardous, the inspector must check to see if the instrument being used is rated safe for that specific environment. This applies to all instruments whether it’s ultrasound, vibration, or infrared. First, review the conditions and hazards with your safety coordinator. Find out if there are any ratings needed for the instrument in order to comply with safety requirements for that area. For example, is the instrument rated Ex for hydrogen or acetylene or propane? The ratings may be different from one area to the next. Since there are many types of hazardous environments it’s up to the inspector to review them and understand them before any testing can begin.