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Wolf Torches - A Brief History |

Wolf Torches: The ATEX Approved Torch and Portable Lighting Solution

The Wolf Safety Lamp Company, headquartered in South Yorkshire, have been manufacturing safety lamps and torches for over 100 years. Initially established in Leeds as a distribution company for German torch manufacturer Friemann and Wolf in 1880, it relocated in 1912 and began developing mining lamps more in tune with the British laws and regulations governing mining and quarrying.

During the 1930’s Wolf introduced the compressed air lamp, an innovation that is still manufactured today but to a far higher technological standard.

As the mining and quarrying industry steadily went into decline during the 1960’s and 70’s the Wolf Safety Lamp company went through a period of great change and diversification. By the 1980’s Wolf had developed and introduced new industrial safety lamps including the WolfLite range and Intrinsically Safe torches.

1994 saw the introduction of the EU directive on the use of equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres known as ATEX. A further directive was introduced in the 2000’s so in response Wolf concentrated on developing ATEX approved torches, taking advantage of the new and improving LED technology.

Today Wolf is the leading manufacturer of ATEX certified torches and power distribution systems used in potentially explosive environments the world over.

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What is ATEX?

ATEX is the name commonly given to the two European Directives for controlling explosive atmospheres, they are:

Directive 99/92/EC (also known as 'ATEX 137' or the 'ATEX Workplace Directive') detailing ‘Minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres’ and, Directive 94/9/EC (also known as 'ATEX 95' or 'the ATEX Equipment Directive') outlining the ‘Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres’.

These directives place a legal obligation on an employer to ensure appropriate electrical equipment is provided to employees where a potentially explosive gas, dust, vapour or mist atmosphere could be present. Only ATEX approved CE marked equipment that is compliant with these directives can be sold within the EU for use in shore based applications or on fixed off shore platforms where potentially explosive atmospheres may be found.

What defines an Explosive Atmosphere?

A potentially explosive atmosphere can be caused by flammable gasses, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. If enough of these substances have mixed with the oxygen in the air then all that is needed is an ignition source to cause an explosion.

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) outlines the steps employers must take to eliminate or control the risks posed by explosive atmospheres.

Preventing the release of potentially dangerous substances and preventing sources of ignition are two widely used ways of reducing the risks. Using ATEX approved equipment can help enormously with this.

ATEX Classification

If, after a conducting a risk assessment, an area is deemed to be hazardous it will be classified into 1 of 6 zones, 3 for gaseous atmospheres and 3 for dust based atmospheres. Which zone an environment will be classified into will depend upon the frequency and persistence of the potentially explosive atmosphere, and this will directly affect the controls which must be placed on both fixed equipment and mobile equipment that can cause an ignition threat that can be permitted in the area.

Product Classification and Marks

ATEX approved equipment will have the CE mark, the Ex mark shown below and additional coding relating to the category of atmosphere it is suited to, whether it is suited to a gaseous or dust atmosphere and the maximum temperatures equipment can reach due to faults.

Heading Mark Use
Explosion Proof Ex In accordance with the ATEX directive
Equipment Group I For use in underground mines
II For use in all other places
Category 1 Equipment that is intended for use in areas where an explosive atmosphere is present continuously, for long periods or frequently
2 Equipment that is intended for use in areas where an explosive atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation and must ensure a high level of protection
3 Equipment that is intended for use in areas where an explosive atmosphere is unlikely to occur in normal operation and must ensure a normal level of protection
Gas / Dust G Equipment certified for use in flammable gases
D Equipment certified for use where dust is present in the atmosphere
Type of Protection d Flameproof
Ia Intrinsically safe
e Increased safety
Gas Group I Mines
II Surface above ground industries
Gas Sub Group A Less easily ignited gases e.g. propane
B Easily ignited gases e.g ethylene
C Most easily ignited e.g. hydrogen or acetylene
Temperature Classification - Hazardous area apparatus is classified according to the maximum surface temperature produced under fault conditions at an ambient temperature of 40°C, or as otherwise specified. The standard classifications are as shown T1 450ºC
T2 300ºC
T3 200ºC
T4 135ºC
T5 100ºC
T6 85ºC

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