Raising the standard

Jan 2, 2012 | Lighting

GlassGuard sales director Chris Payne explains the importance of the fragment retention lamp standards launched last year, and how using compliant lamps can offer peace of mind and best practice in health and safety

There is a wide range of ever changing policies and standards within the industrial sector, from fire safety to quality control checks. Industrial lighting is no different and, with most industrial facilities illuminated by hundreds of fluorescent lamps, it would simply be foolish to ignore them.

Glass is one of the most dangerous potential contaminants, but with fluorescent lamps present across factories, packaging plants, public buildings and even as component parts in machinery, shattered glass can be a commonplace occurance and sometimes go undetected.

Diffusers are used in most situations to prevent contamination from lamps shattering unexpectedly, but simple lamp maintenance times are the most dangerous for glass contamination. As soon as the diffuser is removed to change a lamp, glass is exposed and is at risk.

When accidentally dropped or smashed, a standard fluorescent tube can cause widespread glass contamination or personal injury, with potential financial costs running into tens of thousands. A special industry compliant fluoro polymer coating which retains glass shards in the event of breakage, offering protection from the point of installation through useful life without any degradation over time, is an easy way to comply with HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and other standards.

BS EN 61549

Fragment retention lamp coatings have been available for a number of years now, but it was only in 2010 that strict regulations came into force defining lamp life, coating protection and lamp performance. Every industrial facility should be aware of the new BS EN 61549 standard, which requires that all fluorescent lamps should meet a four metre impact test and successfully retain all fragments.

It also requires that the safety coating must remain active for a minimum of 8,000 hours lamp life and withstand a 650°C glow wire test. With a number of different shatter-proof lamps available on the market, this standard represents an important step forward in the improvement of safety and offers reassurance to users that glass contamination will no longer be a worry.

When sourcing shatter-proof fluorescent lamps for industrial facilities it is important to only use those that reach or exceed BS EN 61549. Poor quality polyethylene or PET coated lamps that do not meet the standard, offer far less in terms of life and performance than fluoro polymer coated lamps.

Importance of compliance

Using compliant lamps provides greatly improved safety for personnel as well as reassurance that potential contaminants are limited. Glass lamps should form part of your business’ risk assessment and using BS EN 61549 compliant lamps offers reassurance to customers as well as your insurers. Simply put, fully compliant fragment retention lamps last longer and protect your products, profits and personnel.

The introduction of BS EN 61549 has helped to ensure that PET covered shrink wrapped lamps that do not contain glass past 5,000 hours are no longer in use.

Benefits in action

A number of industrial sectors have already discovered the benefits of compliant fragment retention lamps, including Arla Foods’ milk processing facility in Ashby de la Zouch. Engineering manager Dale Blunt explained. “We had issues in the past inside one of the filler cabinets where a light fitting exploded.

“We had to have the filler down for 12 hours to do a really thorough clean, just to make sure that there was no possibility of contamination. Just off that single filler, the down-time period was about a £12,000-£14,000 loss in production. By using the GlassGuard BlackBand fluorescent tubes (which are shown to reach the standard required with a BlackBand symbol around the end of the lamp), that risk is taken away completely.”

The new standard requires 8,000 hours service life. GlassGuard’s BlackBand range of fluorescent lamps offers 20,000 hours service life which reduces the cost of lamp operation on a 1,000 hours basis and provides maintenance savings.