How to safely buy a used ATEX forklift

Pre-owned explosion proof lift trucks can be useful additions to potentially explosive operations, but how do you know they are safe and are they dangerous? Darren Boiling from safety company Pyroban gives some important guidance.

Wrongly specified ATEX safety equipment or poorly maintained safety systems could cause an explosion in a potentially explosive atmosphere. Therefore, businesses that are looking to buy a used ATEX lift truck (or rent one on a short-term basis) should follow these simple guidelines in order to keep a chemical factory, waste treatment plant, distillery, or food processing operation safe.

1. Establish the operation risk

Is the area where the trucks will be used Zone 1, 2, 21 or 22 under ATEX 1999/92/EC or DSEAR in the UK? For gas and vapour hazards, what is the Gas Group and  Auto-ignition temperature of the substances handled? For dust and powders, what is the Cloud Ignition Temperature, and the Dust Layer Ignition Temperature?

2. Assess the application

What will the truck be doing (height, distance etc.) and in what ambient temperature? Multi-shift continuous work or intermittent use? 
 
As part of the protection method, surface temperatures may be limited which can have an effect on the equipment’s work cycle, especially if it is working in a high ambient temperature. For example, used Pyroban equipment traded to the Middle East may struggle with the desert heat if it isn’t built for that environment. 
 
Based on an understanding of where the equipment will work, does the safety specification match and does the lift truck do what is required (lift height, speed etc.)?

3. Is the truck clean?

Many ATEX lift trucks will have worked within chemical industries, or other environments where corrosive or toxic substances are handled. It is a good idea to get an understanding of what the truck used to do and to make sure it has been de-contaminated.

4. What about service and inspection history?

The service history is really important.  Was the truck regularly maintained by a trained Pyroban engineer who used the correct parts and service regime? One incorrect part may expose a site to the risk of ignition through a spark or hot surface, for example. 
 
Was the truck’s safety system audited on an annual basis by a safety inspector? Not to be confused by the lift truck engineer conducting a thorough examination, this would ensure that the integrity of the safety system was checked, and any faults rectified.  For example, has impact damage, wear and tear, or corrosion been left untreated for years?

5. Safety audit before the sale completes

Insist that a safety audit such as Pyroban’s Ex-ASA is conducted, and any problems are rectified before the sale completes.  Pyroban auditors have the knowledge and experience to issue a certificate in support of ongoing ATEX compliance. Used ATEX lift trucks do not always look their best but that doesn’t mean they are unsafe for a hazardous area.  
 
If a used truck is given the all clear by Pyroban, and the specification matches the requirements of the site, then it can be an economical way to ensure the safety of workers and reduce risk to the user’s brand and supply chain.

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