What is ATEX
If your company works with hazardous materials, it is crucial to know what the ATEX Directive is. The ATEX Directive is the world’s generally accepted standard for the use of equipment in an explosive atmosphere. It contains the minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers, who are usually at potential risk from the explosive atmospheres, like those in the offshore oil and gas industry.
The ATEX Directive has two separate components, Directive 2014/34/EU and Directive 99/92/EC.
Directive 2014/34/EU, also known as ATEX 114 or the ATEX Equipment Directive, provides the approximation of the laws of Members States concerning equipment and protective systems, intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.
Directive 99/92/EC, also known as ATEX 153 or the ATEX Workplace Directive, provides the requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.
Below, let us discuss more on both Directives.
Directive 2014/34/EU refers to the equipment and protective systems intended for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere. It is a requirement to ensure safety in the workplace by determining whether the equipment used is suitable for usage in a potentially explosive atmosphere. The certification involves an impartial third-party organisation that provides testing as part of the certification process. All certified equipment will receive a CE marking to indicate compliance and an “Ex” marking to indicate official certification under the ATEX directive.
Some examples of ignition sources that organisations must be kept aware of:
Electric sparks – a poor quality electrical connection may fail, and inadvertently produce an electrical spark that can ignite explosive gases or nearby materials.
High temperatures – Hot surfaces on equipment could cause ignition, depending on the content of the explosive atmosphere i.e. dust in the air causing a dust explosion.
Electrostatic discharge or Friction Sparks – Regular equipment operations may sometimes generate static electricity, which can serve as an ignition source. Repeated contact between materials, can also result in friction that produces sparks.
Open flames – Open flames from a lit cigarette or welding activities can ignite explosive gases or nearby materials.
The symbols used for ATEX certifications
The European Commission has issued this Directive, which aims to improve the health protection and safety of employees who may be endangered by explosive atmospheres. This directive comprises of:
- The definition of minimum requirements to improve the health protection and safety of employees.
- Classification of areas in zones where a potentially explosive atmosphere may occur.
- Warning symbols to indicate areas where a potentially explosive atmosphere may occur.
As such, under this Directive, employers with workplaces where explosive atmospheres may occur will have to eliminate or control the risks from dangerous substances or gas. The areas with hazardous explosive atmosphere must be properly classified into zones, based on the likelihood of an explosive atmosphere occurring, and its persistence if it does.
These areas must be fully protected from any sources of ignition. All equipment and protective systems that are intended to be used in those areas must first meet the standard requirements of the Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996. Employees who work in these zoned areas must be provided with the appropriate clothing that does not create the risk of an electrostatic discharge from igniting the explosive atmospheres. Entry points into these zones must be also marked with a specified ‘EX’ sign as a warning symbol.
Zoned areas must also be thoroughly inspected by a person or organisation with the proper certifications to consider the risks in the area, the adequacy of the explosion control, and other measures that are put in place.
International Metal Engineering offers a wide range Flameproof Products, such as Flameproof Instrument Enclosures, Flameproof Junction Boxes, Flameproof Temperature Assemblies, and many more to cater to your hazardous area needs.
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