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Working hand in hand with IECEx
Martin Thedens
Martin Thedens

IEC Technical Committee 31: Equipment for explosive atmospheres publishes safety standards relating to equipment used in hazardous areas, where flammable liquids, vapours, gases or dusts are likely to occur in quantities sufficient to cause an explosion. Many of these standards serve as a basis to IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres. IECEx assesses the conformity of equipment to International Standards such as the IEC 60079 series, which includes many parts, starting with Part 0 which specifies the general requirements for Ex equipment used in explosive atmospheres.

After being a Convenor for several working groups inside TC 31, Martin Thedens has recently been nominated Chair of the committee, while at the same time chairing the German mirror committee DKE/K 241.

e-tech catches up with him as IEC TC 31 continues its busy work despite the difficulties linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How was TC 31 affected by COVID-19 in 2020?

There were a few remote meetings with some subcommittees, project and maintenance groups where the discussions were a bit difficult, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. People had to get used to online meetings and the different time zones were a real problem we had to deal with. Despite all of that, our work was not really affected. We released several publications, including IEC 60079-10-1, which is a new proposition from the IEC, a commented version (CMV) of the standard.

How does TC 31 work with IECEx?

The previous Chair of TC 31, Mark Coppler, established a formal liaison between IEC TC 31 and IECEx, and this very important step was the reason he received the Thomas Edison Award in 2020. IECEx can assign people to our working groups and each decision sheet issued by IECEx is examined in TC 31, so that we can ensure that it is written in conformity to our standards. We also take IECEx demands for updates as well as requirements for new standards into account. For instance, conformity assessment experts require a standard for the IECEx Scheme for Certification of Personnel Competencies. We are currently working on the third committee draft of IEC 60079-44. The document aims to identify the minimum level of knowledge and skills required to work in hazardous areas and the specific competence required for work associated with equipment for explosive atmospheres.

Can you explain how TC 31 works with other IEC Technical Committees?

Our aim is for our standards to be seen and used as horizontal publications across the IEC. We are working on a Basic Safety Publication, which has been accepted by the IEC Advisory Committee on Safety (ACOS), and which will serve as a guide for all IEC TCs. We have also set up several joint working groups, which enable us to work very well with many TCs. For instance, with TC 18, which develops standards for electric installations onboard ships and mobile and fixed offshore units.

The full interview of Martin Thedens can be read in e-tech

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