The Importance of Intrinsically Safe Devices in Hazardous Areas


man working on his tablet during night shift at an industrial site

If you’ve been tasked to source intrinsically safe devices for a site but you’re not sure what this means, it’s important you know what to look for. The goal is to find a device suited for the environment you intend to use it in. 

What are Intrinsically Safe Devices? 

Intrinsically safe devices are electronic equipment that can’t release enough electrical or thermal energy to cause an ignition in a hazardous atmosphere. Devices are made safe by limiting the current, power, energy, and voltage of the device.  

What is a Hazardous Location?

A hazardous location is one that has flammable gases, liquids, or fine particles floating in the air that may ignite. These locations include oil rigs, flour or saw mills, mine sites, and chemical plants. There are many objects that can become ignition sources including flames, cigarettes, welding, hot surfaces, machinery, electrical equipment, friction sparks, stray currents, and electrostatic discharge sparks. 

Hazardous environments can also be known as hazardous locations, ex areas, explosive atmospheres, and hazardous areas.  

Selecting the Right Intrinsic Device

Sometimes buyers aren’t the end-user. A procurement officer may request a device fit for hazardous areas, and sometimes they don’t realise that explosive environments aren’t all the same when it comes to intrinsically safe devices. 

Hazardous locations are graded depending on the likelihood of hazardous material being present in an ignitable concentration. Intrinsic devices are labelled with the same zone system so it’s a matter of matching the environment and corresponding device. In a location classified as Zone 0, the devices allowed must also be labelled as Zone 0. Hence, a device labelled as Zone 1 or Zone 2 would be at possible risk of causing an ignition.   

Classification of Hazardous Areas

As stated before, hazardous areas are classified into zones. The ATEX and IECEx has three classifications depending on the frequency and duration of an explosive gas atmosphere, including:

  • Zone 0: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is present continuously or for long periods;
  • Zone 1: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation;
  • Zone 2: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation and, if it occurs, will only exist for a short time.

The number of hours in a year that a site is expected to be hazardous determines its zone classification. 

  • Zone 0: Explosive atmosphere for more than 1000 hours/year
  • Zone 1: Explosive atmosphere for more than 10 hours/year, but less than 1000 h/year
  • Zone 2: Explosive atmosphere for less than 10 hours/year, but still sufficiently likely as to require controls over ignition sources.

Buyers need to know which zone the user will visit with their device. If they visit multiple sites and need to take a device to all sites, then they should choose a device that matches the most hazardous location. 

Consumer Devices Made Intrinsically Safe

Intrinsically safe android devices are the norm. In the past, this meant that hazardous site workers that loved their Apple products had no choice but to switch to an Android one. Today, XCIEL cases make it possible for Apple and other consumer products to enter hazardous sites


These cases act as an intrinsically safe barrier. They stop the device from releasing enough electrical or thermal energy under normal or unusual conditions to ignite the atmosphere. This means that an XCIEL case turns an everyday phone into an intrinsically safe mobile phone or ipad. 

The cases also convert consumer products into rugged devices keeping the device free of water, dust, shock, and vibrations. Nevertheless, the user can still access all the buttons to change the power, mute, and volume button settings. The cases are identified as suitable for hazardous locations with safety, tampering, and certification labels. 

The XCIEL Zone 1 cases are suitable for the iPad mini 6 which is due to be launched in the first quarter of 2023. For more information, check out the XCIEL Zone 1 Intrinsically Safe iPad Mini 5 Case.

Support and Availability

Roaming Technologies supplies the cases and fits the device into the case to ensure compliance and safety requirements are met. Our Ex Service Facility certification means we’re qualified to fit phones into rugged cases. 

For all products supplied by Roaming Technologies, our extended warranty support comes at no charge for the lifetime of the device. This means we’ll be your single point of contact to assist in any warranty or repair issues, ensuring your device gets back into the field as quickly as possible.

Shipping costs and delivery lead times will vary depending on the order quantities required, and we offer overnight shipping for the fastest possible delivery to you. 

Help With Choosing your Intrinsically Safe Device

If you’ve never visited a hazardous site or are unsure about intrinsically safe tablets or phones, we can help. As long as you know what zone you’ll be visiting, we’ll give you our device recommendations. 

Browse our range of intrinsically safe devices and ruggedised cases and get in touch online or call and speak to one of the experts at Roaming Technologies on 1300 131 933 or contact us online.

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