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Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 6:30 AM

Hi,

Is it recommended to take hot work permit for using multimeter in a hydrocarbon ,such as inside a refinery.?I would like to know the standard/procedures beling followed elsewhere so as to come to a conclusion.I dont have come across any Indian standard regarding the same.Hope to get help from you guys..I believe normal work permit is enough as multimeters are energised by 6/9/12V battiers only.Thanks in advance.

(Hot work permit:Permit is issues after taking necessary gas presence checks).

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#1

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 7:13 AM

I would expect a HWP to be required for any operations to be carried out in a hazardous zone. The fact that you think a nine volt battery could not ignite a volatile atmosphere, or that the use of a standard MM in such an environment could not be dangerous demonstrates that you should complete a risk assessment.

Many manufacturers make intrinsically safe MMs for such purposes and you should not consider using one that is not so designed. The Fluke 28 11 ex is one such meter.

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#2

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 7:16 AM

I believe a standard multi-meter is well capable of producing an incendive spark, a proper certified (for the area classification) meter should be used.

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#3

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 7:22 AM

Yes. If your multimeter is not certified for use in a hazardous area, as it has a battery inside it, then it needs a hot work permit before it is brought inside the hazardous area. Ask for training before you blow yourself to smithereens.

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#4

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 7:52 AM

Do also bear in mind that if the hazardous area zones are large and very restrictive, then the plant has a major process materials containment problem to overcome at the earliest opportunity.

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#5

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 9:53 AM

I'm guessing that you do not know what a Hot Work Permit is for. I deal with these all the time.

You are thinking about two totally different situations!

  1. A HWP is for work that either is being welded - heated - ground - or any work that produces sparks or a flame or is capable of igniting any surrounding materials.
  2. What you are talking about is making the atmosphere safe for humans to work in without an SCBA or air purification.
  3. Your work with a multi-meter does not constitute a hot work zone unless it spits out sparks and flames when you work. Though I have seen some people that do need a HWP when they are using their MM.
  4. In a hazardous work zone, you must ventilate the area and test the air for the LEL when working aroungdflammable materials.

Read up on HWP's on google and you may figure out what it is!

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 10:17 AM

I think your point 3 clearly shows a HWP is required, incendive sparks can occur when testing you can never be certain they will not.

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#8
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Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 10:45 AM

I was actually joking with the MM spark comment.

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#9
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Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 10:57 AM

Do you really think that one cannot produce a spark with a MM and a live circuit?

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 2:37 PM

I know they can as I have done it myself.

The OP is asking about a hot work permit not an atmospheric safety test.

ONCE AGAIN

  1. A HWP is for a work process that can ignite flammable materials in a work zone!
  2. What he is asking is if they use a MM in an unsafe atmosphere should he have a hot work permit. NO!

These are totally different situations!

If he was going to grind and weld in that area, YES he needs a hot work permit and he also must make sure that the atmosphere is safe to do so in! He also must have constant monitoring of the atmosphere to make sure that the atmosphere does not become unsafe during the work!

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#15
In reply to #12

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 3:16 PM

Actually, we once again have an OP that is asking the wrong group for a clarification of their safety standard. Your idea of a hot working permit appears to only involve an electrocution safety concern, not an ignition source in a flammable or explosive atmosphere concern. I and you do not know if their working hot permit addresses atmosphere conditions. The OP's safety officers in reading the cited Indian safety protocol standards are the ones to clarify this, not us. Our opinions mean nothing more than a mental exercise for us.

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 3:51 PM

Very true.

The OP needs to confer with his safety officer and let them make the call.

Us, we are trying to clarify a question that can only be answered by his management!

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 3:54 PM

...then the forum needs to stop trying.

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 6:07 PM

Agreed!

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 6:22 PM

Some people don't know and rather than going to their customer/manager/etc first they come to an anonymous forum to save face or not make themselves look bad in front of people they have to deal with.

There is a fine line though, some are just lazy or to cheap to pay for a consultant (for example).

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 11:13 AM

Yes I thought it was a bit tongue in cheek, but its actually closer to the truth than you probably think and not always due to the competence of the person doing the testing.

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#6

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 9:58 AM

I agree that a working hot permit is needed if one will possibly be in an ignition restricted zone. This can also be considered a complex LOTO condition with the flammable hydrocarbons being an additional energy source that should be properly controlled.

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#11

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 12:24 PM

What is missing is the reason for anything in the hazardous area being in such a condition that the introduction of a non-certifiable multimeter into that area is at all necessary. What an education that would be!

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#13

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 2:53 PM

Also, any meter that is used in an area that has a hazardous atmosphere is wrong. I don't care if the meter is hermetically sealed, the probes can touch a live circuit and cause a spark.

  1. What you need is a HAZARDOUS WORK AREA PERMIT!
  2. NOT A HOT WORK PERMIT! A HOT WORK PERMIT is exactly what it says, the work you're going to perform is HOT and can cause a fire!!!
  3. They are similar but the requirements for a HAZARDOUS WORK AREA PERMIT are much more detailed because there is an area for the atmospheric testing readings and must be continuously monitored and the readings entered on the permit!
  4. A MM does not generate HEAT, SPARKS, or a FLAME in its normal use. It may create sparks, but only when used improperly!
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#30
In reply to #13

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/10/2015 5:13 AM

A test meter can cause sparks regardless of whether or not its properly used, as the circuit being tested has the ability to cause sparks and its condition is unkown hence the need for testing.

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#14

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 2:59 PM

I guess I should have said this first.

WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY POLICY ON USING A MM IN A HAZARDOUS ZONE?????

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 3:50 PM

The OP's company does not have either a policy or a regulation. That is why the OP has come to a website to ask complete strangers for a recommendation. However, the OP does not realise that obtaining recommendations from complete strangers over the internet does not absolve the OP of liability in any jurisdiction were something in accordance with those recommendations carried out that leads to injury, equipment damage or death.

One could not make this pantomime up!

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#19

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 4:07 PM

Don't know where what standards the site is working under (possibly American rather than Indian depending on who owns the refinery) but in my experience put really simply.

A hot work permit may (that's MAY) allow you to bring a standard multimeter on to site and work in a zoned area under certain circumstances on some sites depending on site rules. You have to confirm with the particular site if this is allowed in your particular circumstance. Standards exist but site rules vary and can be more stringent than the standards the site conforms to.

Alternatively an intrinsically safe multimeter must be used, probably also with a hot work permit since the equipment must be opened up.

I believe normal work permit is enough as multimeters are energised by 6/9/12V battiers only

If it isn't intrinsically safe it may as well be a car battery. A spark is a spark, and a small battery is more than enough to generate one powerful enough to ignite the surrounding gas.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 4:48 PM

Very good answer! You clarified it quite well for me!

Thank you.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 5:45 PM

I get to deal with our refinery and a lot of offshore gas platforms so I pick a few things up, even if I don't perform the actual site work myself.

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#24

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 11:11 PM

I understand that you cant open any live panels in a Hazardous area when the plant is running. I don't see how you are going to use any sort of meter.

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#29
In reply to #24

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/10/2015 4:49 AM

One can open circuits that are EExib and EExia - "intrinsically safe" - in the hazardous area with complete safety while the plant is running. Any equipment attached to the circuit can only be "simple apparatus" - typically switches, LEDs, resistors, rectifiers and other non-energy-storing equipment; a battery-powered multimeter does not fall into this category.

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#25

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 11:29 PM

Yes, a HWP is required but to get that you must: test the atmosphere for flammability, ppm of xxx (usually methane as the most frequent comparison); perform a lock-out/tag-out on any potential sources of flammable materials; check the MM intrinsic safety; but there is another more difficult item---the meter can not read any source that would exceed the intrinsically safe standards used for the multi-meter. If the meter were to read anything higher, there could be a spark at the probe or electrical connection and then potentially a big BOOM! (just ask Phillips 66 about Texas City, TX a few years ago!).

This worked with an OSHA inspector during an extensive inspection in these types of areas. He became so tired of us requiring HWP's for his digital camera he gave up on taking pictures of the non-compliant areas/items. Also the employee taking the readings was told to "take your time" in completing them.

If these measurements are going to be done frequently or it is difficult to arrange equipment to comply with the requirements you should investigate the installation of an explosion proof system of conduits, fittings and boxes. Perhaps purge the system with nitrogen from the box located in the worst location and then allow it to travel to a location in a non-xp location. Only a small flow is necessary.

Another possibility in use frequently is to locate the meter in a sealed container with a thick lexan window on it and put a couple pounds of air pressure inside it. This way any leakage will be air out of the enclosure and not flammable vapors into the box.

Best idea is to hire a suitable consulting EE with extensive knowledge and experience in this type of installation. It will cost you to hire/use the talent but much cheaper if you were to make a mistake if you worked it out yourself.

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#26

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/09/2015 11:39 PM

Just remove all the batteries prior to entering the work zone.

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/10/2015 12:22 AM

Still has capacitors that could be charged and hence constitute a hazard.

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#28

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/10/2015 12:55 AM

Each "foreign" (imported- brought in) measuring device or object must be conform with the rules and regulations applied on the work spot. (mostly even checked and registered too at the safety engineering office - sometimes they even take it apart when they don't know what it is)

More than 38 years in a row I have done technical service in Petrochemical plants, gas plants and all kind of hazardous places. (Union Carbide and later - U.O.P. europe and middle east)

In principle you don't have access, unless you behave according the safety standards of the spot.

We bring analyzers, measuring devices powered out of the grid, tools, etc. but in some places tools are not even allowed, unless they are made of bronze and cannot produce sparks (e.g. by falling down)

All electrical connections had to made without the feed line(s) being hot and with everything non conform under nitrogen shield (sometimes a airtight bag - non static under a slightly overpressure where everything was locked in)

We could use a Multimeter in that bag, but nothing out of it for tests that required days, sometimes weeks in a little tent e.g. under a cracker.

Areas to measure in had to be encapsulated, taped off in a bag-like couveuse style with long sleeve gloves and the meter inside. All types of meters are good since the area you create is like an island in a hazardous environment.

This technique is good for all instruments. We used oxygen-, hydrogen- moisture analyzers, gas chromats that just don't come ex- proof in the range of ppb's we were monitoring.

Battery powered instruments have to enter the zone in a airtight bag - under a little pressure - DVM had to be OFF - )

But to use your DVM or MM, yes you need a special work permit - this will give you and your client the opportunity to avoid the risk of fire or explosion.

Preparations sometimes take some hours but....

Better safe than sorry.

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#31

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/10/2015 9:45 AM

I have not studied nor read the required standards for India. I can tell you a similar example: In any gas-fired electric power generating plant, no hot work permit is required to used a field DVM, since the equipment is not supposed to produce plasma or sparks when properly utilized, and all transmitters are located away from any known gas leakage areas. MCC panels and field breakers are also located away from areas where flammable gas is known to be possible. In any of these cases, there is no need for even an LEL check. If meter is to be used in any confined spaces, of course oxygen level is measured first for entry permit, and LEL check is also required to ensure no flammable environment.

For refinery zones where there may be vapor and transmitters, I suspect the requirements of the transmitters are to be intrinsically safe, and that only "intrinsically safe" meters, instruments, spark-less tools are allowed inside this HAZARDOUS work zone. To properly service such an instrument located in that work zone: (1) remove all sources of energy to/from the device, (2) recover the device to a safe work zone, (3) perform all required diagnostics/maintenance on simulated signals in the safe work zone, etc., (4) test the transmitter outputs for proper operation and calibration, and lastly (5) re-install and re-power up the device, after the device is restored to "intrinsically safe" condition.

To do otherwise endangers you and your co-workers in a way that is not justifiable.

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#32

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/10/2015 10:08 AM

There's a tidbit in the OP's question that is being missed:

"I dont have come across any Indian standard regarding the same."(sic)(1)

The project is in India, which from previous posts tends to be really light on safety regulations, for whatever reasons(2), so having the OP check the company procedures or ask up the company chain of command may not produce any useful results.

"I would like to know the standard/procedures beling followed elsewhere so as to come to a conclusion."(sic)

The OP is asking for examples of the procedures used in other countries to provide a reference for his/her own evaluation.

"(Hot work permit:Permit is issues after taking necessary gas presence checks)."(sic)

The OP is providing his/her company's definition of the Hot Work Permit term so we can mentally translate it into the proper term for our country's safety regulations.

And so, if I may take the liberty of rephrasing the OP's question into something closer to American Engineer lingo:

"I need to take a multimeter into a refinery where there may be inflammable(3) hydrocarbon fumes in the work area. My country does not seem to have any safety regulations set up for this scenario. Would you kindly share with me the OSHA or EU safety regulations regarding potentially explosive environments so I may make a better judgement call on if this equipment is safe to use in the area?"

I'd help, but I don't know that section of the OSHA regulations at all, we don't deal with that sort of environment at the plant here. Unlike some posters from the Indian subcontinent(4), this one is thinking safety and putting forth an intelligent question to us. I'd hate to see him/her blown to bits because we were being too snarky and condescending to provide a proper answer.

Notes:

  1. sic: Latin, "Thus." short for "Thus it was written." Used to indicate that a quoted piece of text has been copied word-for-word, including any spelling or grammatical errors.
  2. All the reasons I can think of have either a religious or political underpinning, so I'm keeping my big fat beak shut rather than offend anyone.
  3. Or for the American audience, 'flammable.' Important safety note: flammable and inflammable mean the same thing!
  4. Who will remain nameless, for diplomatic reasons, but I'm sure we can all think of one or two.
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#33

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/11/2015 2:51 AM

Thanks to all.......Actually I was looking for some standards/rules being followed as per IEC/NEC for hazardous area regarding the use of standard meters.Howerer,got some useful information.

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#36
In reply to #33

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/15/2015 7:47 AM

The forum was looking for a reason for the said equipment to be needed to be used in the hazardous area. So far, that reason has not been forthcoming.

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#34

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/12/2015 11:04 AM

Here is a company protocol on hot work: BP Toledo Hot work permit procedure

http://toledobp.com/pages/cm/work_procedures/Safety/SAF-044.pdf

It defines its scope of hot work as "activity that creates an uncontrolled ignition source" (BP)

This BP facility's protocol defines Hot Work Spark Potential (HWSP) as
"Hot Work Spark Potential (HWSP) refers to any task, tools, or activities capable of producing a spark."

Examples of task and equipment categories are:

• Non-intrinsically safe devices

• Hand held instruments

• Battery operated, non-intrinsically safe devices such as: cordless drills, inspection tools, survey tools, electrical test equipment, scissor lifts, electric soldering irons, digital cameras, cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices.

• Opening an explosionproof, purged, or pressurized enclosure with energized electrical equipment inside" (parts snipped out)

A multimeter, not approved by a 3rd party agency for use in a classified hazardous area, qualifies as requiring hot work permitting under this scope at this facility.

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Use of Multimeter in Hydrocarbon Area

04/15/2015 4:21 AM

Thank you Iris....

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