ATEX Directive – Explosive Stuff!!

As I continue my overview tour of various legislation I thought I would have a quick look at European Union Directive 94/9/EC commonly known as “ATEX”. Often asked what does it stand for (a great pub quiz question!!) it derives from the French “ATmosphere EXplosible” and covers electrical and non-electrical equipment that is used in potentially explosive atmospheres. Explosive atmospheres may be present where flammable solvents or combustable dusts, such as flour, are used. Flammable solvents may be used for cleaning or as an additive to a process. Equipment that is used in these environments must be designed to avoid causing an explosion or fire, i.e. avoid sparks and other ignition sources, and they cannot be put on the EU market until approved by a Notified Body who will issue a Certificate of Conformity. There is another related directive called the ATEX 137 Workplace Directive 1999/92/EC (DSEAR-Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmospheres Regulations – in the UK). This is concerned with the safety of the workplace and requires the user to carry out a risk assessment and mark hazardous areas according to risk. “Zones” are based on the risk level and relate to categories defined by the ATEX equipment directive. Both of these directives are currently in force in the EU. ATEX is an EU Directive and equipment sold in other parts of the world may need to meet different local legislative requirements. In North America, for example, documentation is submitted to an appropriate approvals body and testing is also carried out. In the rest of the world, most countries use IEC Standards as national standards. I will go deeper into ATEX during the coming weeks. If ATEX impacts your business I would love to hear from you. Next up, I will have a look at the EuP (Energy using Products) Directive. Directive Decoder

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