Defining Hazardous Area Wireless

October 22nd, 2021 / Worker Safety, Wireless Networking Asset Tracking, Condition Monitoring, Hazardous Area,

There are various reasons for deploying wireless technology into a hazardous area. In almost all cases, the goal is to achieve connectivity and gain more visibility within the hazardous area in question.

As businesses operating in these environments strive to achieve their digitalisation goals, more and more wireless radio devices have entered the market. Some common use cases for wireless connectivity in hazardous or industrial settings include:

  • Personnel or asset tracking
  • Automatic mustering in the event of an emergency
  • Security/ access control
  • Condition monitoring
  • Remote maintenance using video collaboration
  • Inspection and maintenance management
  • VoiP or Push to Talk using mobile phones
  • Job scheduling
  • Incident reporting and management

With the development of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) revolution, the list of use cases continues to grow as all businesses strive to gain a competitive advantage as well as improve the safety across their sites.

This naturally leads to questions about the safety of wireless devices installed in hazardous areas and certification required.

A common misconception among buyers is that standard wireless devices can be easily certified retrospectively. This is rarely the case. Taking an existing device and getting it approved to standards required for hazardous areas is no easy process. It is neither low cost nor quick to do.

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What is a Hazardous Area?

Before understanding the standards that govern the use of wireless devices in hazardous areas, it is important to first define the different types of hazardous areas.

Industrial facilities may contain hazardous areas where there are flammable gas, vapours or liquids, combustible dust, or even ignitable fibres present. Equipment installed in these areas is subject to additional legal requirements to reduce the risk of explosion.

These hazardous areas can be separated into designated zones dependent on how present the hazards are. Figure 1. illustrates the different zones for flammable gas and dust environments. Depending on where in the world your hazardous area is located will determine how it is classified. Tables 1 and 2 below define how each classification works. NEC500 (Table 2) is predominantly used in the USA, whereas ATEX and IECEx (Table 1) are widely used everywhere else around the world. 


Hazardous area gas and dust classifications


ATEX, IECEx and NEC505 hazardous area zone definitions

Table 1: ATEX, IECEx and NEC505 hazardous area zone definitions.

US NEC500 hazardous area division and class definitions

Table 2: US NEC500 hazardous area division and class definitions

For more information or to see how Extronics can help you with your hazardous area wireless connectivity, please contact a member of our team on +44 (0)1606 738 446 or email us at

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