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There are various authorities in Australia and New Zealand concerned with the safety of electrical installations in hazardous areas. These include the electrical regulatory authorities, departments of mines, departments of labour and industry and the insurance industry.
The authorities’ needs for appropriate Standards are catered for through their membership of committees such as Joint Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand Committees EL-014, Electrical Equipment in Hazardous Areas and EL-023, Electrical Equipment in Coal Mines, which prepare Standards that take into account the special conditions and risks that exist in hazardous areas. However, some forty years ago there was seen to be a need for these authorities to participate in a national certification scheme.
During the early 1960s Standards Australia set up an approvals type scheme for Ex equipment, referred to in later years as the P3 scheme which operated under the direction of the Standards Australia P-003 Committee. Committee P-003, Certification of Explosion-Protection Electrical Equipment, was the Standards Australia Committee responsible for considering applications for certification and for authorizing the issue of Certificates of Compliance or Statements of Opinion. It also advised regulatory authorities and industry on matters relating to the application of Australian Standards to electrical equipment for use in hazardous areas. This committee comprised representatives from State electrical and mining regulatory authorities.
Under this Scheme the Committee met approximately every two months to consider applications using test reports and, in most instances, samples to arrive at a decision.
The next phase of the Scheme was introduced on 1 July 1993 when MP 69—1993 superseded MP 42—1990, and implemented a new program for the Australian Ex Certification Scheme, managed by the new Ex Mark Certification Management Committee P-008 and administered by Quality Assurance Services (QAS).
This phase of the Scheme, known as the AUSEx Scheme, served the Australian industry well, but Australia’s participation in the new international IECEx Scheme in the late 1990's meant that a review of the Scheme was required, to ensure that this Scheme could continue to cater to the needs of industry. Therefore, a review of the operational procedures was conducted with the aim of accommodating Australian and New Zealand participation in the IEC Ex Scheme, as well as aligning with the international practice for Conformity Assessment.
Another major reason for the review was the ongoing adoption for publication as Joint Australian/New Zealand Standards of IEC Standards as well as the acceptance of other relevant IEC Standards in the field of Hazardous Areas/Explosive Atmospheres. This created the need to incorporate all these adopted and accepted Standards in the Scheme.
Up to 2002, the Scheme had been operating as an ISO Type 1 (Type Test) Scheme and while it has served the industry well, the ever changing industrial and commercial climate with company acquisitions, takeovers, mergers and collaborations highlights the limitations of Type Test Certification to clearly identify the actual manufacturer.
Such difficulties have led many overseas approval and certification agencies to include assessment of manufacturer’s Quality Management Systems (incorporating the relevant Product Quality Plans) as a mandatory requirement of Ex Certification. Due to these issues and circumstances the Joint Policy Committee, P-008, endorsed the inclusion of the ANZEx Quality Management System Requirements as a mandatory aspect of a new ANZEx Scheme to replace the AUSEx Scheme in 2003. It should be noted that from the introduction of the AUSEx Scheme there was a clear intention to include Quality Management System Requirements in the Scheme. In June 2014 Standards Australia Committee P-008 was renamed MS-067 with no change to it's function. In August 2016 the ownership of the ANZEx Certification System was transferred from Standards Australia to JAS-ANZ with no changes in the certification requirements for either equipment or service facilities.
The latest revision, the ANZEx Scheme, has introduced changes to provide greater flexibility and choice of Certification Bodies by the users. Additionally it follows closely the principles of Certification used in the IECEx Scheme in which Australia and New Zealand are participating members.
This Scheme, as it adapts through its successive phases of development, has proven to be an effective and useful tool for industry. This situation is only made possible through the active participation of all industry sectors, i.e. manufacturers, equipment users, electrical regulators, testing and Certification Bodies, in the complete process of developing suitable Australian and Joint Australian/New Zealand Standards through to the setting of policy for the ANZEx Scheme.
It is anticipated that, as governing bodies gain confidence in the certification process, they can gradually move away from formal approval processes to deem that a product is approved if it has been certified under an appropriate certification scheme (such as the ANZEx Scheme) to a particular Standard.
The rules applicable to each Scheme can be accessed through the menu system.