Intrinsic Safety: Don’t Forget About Accessories

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All across Alberta, people are working in potentially hazardous environments.  Gas refineries, grain silos, lumber mills and even some types of manufacturing operations are on the list of work environments that can have flammable or combustible gases, vapors, or dust in the air. You can find these facilities all over the map – from Calgary to Edmonton to Athabasca, Fort McMurray and beyond.

While the need for reliable communication exists in every workplace, the elevated risk to safety in the workplaces mentioned above is much higher. Fortunately, manufacturers like Motorola Solutions have designed intrinsically safe (IS) two-way radios that allow for safe communication.

Employers are well aware of the need for intrinsically safe radios, but sometimes, they overlook the need to purchase or rent accessories that meet the same safety standard.

What Makes Intrinsically Safe Radios Safe to Use?

All conventional electronics (two-way radios included) generate at least some thermal energy (heat) and have the potential to create a spark.  Put your hand on the bottom of your laptop, and you’ll be able to feel the warmth that is created just by normal operation.  While this is acceptable in a regular workplace (like an office), the same cannot be said for gas refineries or other such hazardous work environments. In those, excess heat or a minor spark can make the conventional electronic device a potential source of ignition.

Intrinsically safe two-way radios have been specially designed to safeguard against this risk.  They operate at a low voltage, making them incapable of generating sufficient thermal energy to create a spark while still providing reliable voice and data communication. To learn more, check out our blog on the topic.

Are Your Accessories Intrinsically Safe?

If your radios are, your accessories need to be, too.  Remember, conventional electronics generate heat and could generate a spark; this applies to two-way radios and the accessories that pair with them.  To ensure the entire communications system is safe to use in hazardous environments, every piece of equipment needs to be certified as intrinsically safe.

Other Things to Consider.

The safety of your staff and operation isn’t the only reason for this, either.  Because an IS two-way radio operates on a lower than typical voltage, there may be compatibility issues between it and the headset or speaker mic your team member is using.  That means they could experience serious performance issues on top of the safety risks they’re being exposed to.

There’s also a matter of cost.  Like IS radios, IS accessories can cost more.  That’s something you need to be aware of when deciding to rent or buy your two-way radios. You also need to factor in the potential downtime that could come if you buy the wrong accessories.

For example, some job sites require headsets that provide hearing protection and two-way communication.  If you mistakenly purchase non-intrinsically safe headsets, your operation may be at a standstill while you order new equipment and ship the non-IS gear back.  Time and money are being lost with every day your staff sits idly by.

So, if your project requires intrinsically safe communication, don’t forget about the accessories.  The team of experts here at Tridon can set you up with the right equipment and answer any questions you may have about safety, compatibility, operation, and features.  If you’d like to get that conversation started, Contact Us.

In the meantime, here are some examples of accessories that have intrinsic safety certification.

Motorola PMMN4050 IMPRES Noise-Canceling Remote Speaker Microphone

This accessory conveniently clips to your shirt pocket or lapel and enables easy communication without having to remove the radio from your belt. This large microphone is easy to operate even while wearing gloves and features IMPRES audio which optimizes your audio when operating in noisy environments. The noise-canceling feature reduces distracting background noises. Audio jack available to attach earpieces for discreet communications.


Motorola NNTN8379 Heavy Duty Headset (CSA)

This Peltor® heavy-duty headset designed to easily attach to your helmet is CSA-certified for extreme conditions and comfortable for long shifts. With a 24 dB NRR and optimal acoustic design, this headset provides ample space for ears while foam and fluid-filled cushions seal out noise, making it comfortable to wear even on long shifts. Also features an easily adjustable noise-canceling boom microphone. This headset must be ordered with the external push-to-talk NNTN8378.

Motorola NNTN8378 Push-To-Talk Adapter (CSA)

This Peltor® push-to-talk adapter gives you easy access to a large push-to-talk button–ideal when wearing gloves or when the radio is under a coat or safety gear. CSA-certified to tolerate harsh conditions.

Motorola PMLN5275 Heavy Duty Headset (CSA)

Designed for rugged use in noisy environments where hearing protection is required. Headsets include a flexible noise-canceling boom.

Motorola NNTN8386 Battery

This IMPRES 1800 mAh Li-Ion smart energy, intrinsically safe (CSA) battery keeps your radio performing on long shifts. Only IMPRES batteries can be charged 150 additional times as compared to a standard battery—a 43% increase in charge cycles. You save money because you buy fewer batteries over the life of your radio and have fewer disruptions to operations.

Tridon is a full solution Telecom Systems Integrator with CSA certification and licensed by APEGA.  Our Engineering, Service and Tower Divisions collaborate with customers to build engineered solutions including communications systems design, tower inspections and co-location, wireless broadband, fiber optic cabling, site security, and two-way radio communication.

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