Benefits of IECEx Certified Cap Lamps In Underground Hardrock Mines

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International IECEx Certification Schemes are globally recognised and managed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The United Nations recommends IECEx certification for government legislations and other enforcement bodies. IECEx Certifying Bodies (ExCBs) operate to the strictest standards for testing, certification, compliance, factory level auditing and surveillance to ensure safety, consistency and technical compliance. IECEx Certificates of Conformity are publicly available on the IECEx website for transparency and traceability. Certified products are easily identified by the reference number displayed on the equipment’s marking plate.

For underground hardrock mines, one might think it is not a big deal to use non-explosive products when there is no apparent presence of a hazardous or explosive atmosphere. However, the risk is not just in the environment; often the dangers may arise from the product itself. For instance, cheap non-certified equipment may cut costs in manufacturing by removing standard safety features in design, such as circuit fuses. No short-circuit protection means high risk of electrical sparks. On the other hand, IECEx certified products must abide by strict IEC guidelines and specifications and are rigorously tested to meet safety standards. If your objectives include moving towards a “Zero Harm” policy, then the following comparative facts may guide you in your decision making process.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamp

Comprehensive Certification Tests: Rigorous testing is conducted by ExCBs to ensure safety and quality.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamps Non-Certified Cap Lamps
  • 2 metre drop test.
  • Enclosure thermal endurance test.
  • Enclosure chemical resistance test.
  • IP test (e.g. water and dust).
  • Battery safety test.
  • Light radiation test.
  • Static discharge test.
  • Other tests.
  •  Buyers can only rely on manufacturer’s promises on safety and quality. There is no government body or independent authority to verify and certify manufacturer’s promises.

Strict Safety Design: Safety design measures are assessed and approved by ExCBs.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamps Non-Certified Cap Lamps
  • Battery protection circuit - critical to managing short circuits, overcharges, over discharges, extend battery life and heat control.
  • Comprehensive safety component protections, such as fuse protection, current limiting, and voltage clamp.
  • Compulsory component safety factor for ratings higher than normal operations (power rating and current rating).
  • PCB segregation, cable wiring and part assembly.
  • Thermal assessment, spark assessment, static discharge control.
  • Non-certified cap lamps do not implement complete safety plan and design measures required by certified standards.
  • Manufacturers may not apply standard safety features. E.g. omitting circuit fuse to cut costs.
  • Design (IS) safety factors are excluded.

Fault Assessment: Comprehensive “2-fault” conditions are assessed by ExCBs to ensure the product is safe to use even in a faulty state.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamps Non-Certified Cap Lamps
  • Battery failure.
  • Short circuit.
  • Charging fault.
  • Non-certified cap lamps do not take fault effect into consideration, so you do not know the potential results of a fault occurring. For instance, high operating temperatures, water or dust ingress may cause lithium batteries in Cap Lamps to explode.

Design Information Control: Key product and component information is recorded by ExCBs to ensure product quality consistency.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamps Non-Certified Cap Lamps
  • Designs are certified. Any changes require re-certification.
  • Key component information cannot be changed without re-certification. For example, battery, fuse, LED, IC and PCB.
  • Key materials cannot be changed to ensure consistency in product quality.
  • Key product specifications cannot be changed.
  • The manufacturer can change any component or material and cut back design, at any time to save manufacturing costs without informing buyers. For instance, your first order of cap lamps might include circuit fuses, but the manufacturer could remove them in subsequent orders and you will never know unless you open every cap lamp for inspection, which would void the warranty.

Quality Management and Surveillance: Strict management and supervision by ExCBs and authorities based on government acts, industry regulations, policies and decisions.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamps Non-Certified Cap Lamps
  • Annual on-site surveillance auditing by ExCBs.
  • Product and key component identification and tracking by ExCBs.
  • Regulated product labelling, dispatching, services and documentation.
  • More stringent quality management on top of ISO9001.
  • Continuous monitoring of product production from manufacturing to end-user.
  • Strict reporting and resolutions procedure for reportable incidents or non-conformity.
  • Non-certified Cap Lamps are not regulated by independent authorities.

Clear and Accessible Accountability: IECEx certificate holders and product manufacturers are either located in Australia or manufacturing is controlled from Australia.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamps Non-Certified Cap Lamps
  • Certification holders are held responsible under the law for their products and certifications.
  • IECEx certification refers back to the source in Australia no matter where the product is used globally. This means product liability insurance is valid from anywhere around the world.
  • It can be difficult to hold a responsible party accountable for imported products when they are a foreign entity outside of the jurisdiction of the buyer’s country.
  • Recourse for compensation arising from faulty products may be impossible or at the very least, costly endeavours, to pursue in overseas courts.

Protection From Potential Explosions: Hardrock mines are not always explosive gas free. Gold, copper, uranium, potash and platinum mines may emit explosive strata gases.

IECEx Certified Cap Lamps Non-Certified Cap Lamps

IECEx  Certified Cap Lamps are:

  • Safe from methane (CH4).
  • Safe from carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Safe from other gases.
  • You are completely out of protection when using non-certified Cap Lamps in the event of gas occurrences from strata.

In Summary

IECEx standards help companies work towards a “Zero Harm” policy. For safety and procurement professionals, IECEx certified products are designed to standards and validated and supervised by ExCBs for use in any type of mine or industrial application. IECEx certificates offer the best possible safety standards.
Roobuck routinely advises mine management to buy IECEx certified products even if they are not a compulsory requirement set by government regulations. Mine operators may choose non-certified products, because the downside risk is negligible compared to the costs. However, it is not about money; it is about all of the above and protecting our client relationships.
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