Blog

ATEX Guidelines on explosion protection

ATEX – a term often heard, that often leaves uncertainty. Especially in areas where explosive mixtures occur due to the presence of dusts, this is a frequently discussed subject. This also applies to the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. 

To ensure maximum safety in the environment and avoid the occurrence of explosive mixtures, there are regulations and guidelines that should be followed. This blog article provides a close-up view of the most important statutory regulations for plant operators and system manufacturers.

ATEX Guidelines on explosion protection

The meaning of ATEX for operators and manufacturers

ATEX is all about the statutory basics on explosion protection in the EU. The associated directives define the minimum requirements for machinery in potentially explosive atmospheres, to ensure the protection of people and equipment. A differentiation is made between manufacturers and operators of these systems.

Regulations for the operators of plants

As an operator of equipment and systems covered by the ATEX Directive, there are several regulations that must be observed when handling these mixtures and substances. For the operator, the focus is on a safe working environment. The most important regulations are the ATEX Operator Directive 1999/92/EC and the Hazardous Substances Ordinance. 

ATEX Operator Directive 1999/92/EC 

The ATEX Operator Directive 1999/92/EC corresponds to ATEX118a respectively ATEX 137 of the EU Treaty. It is a directive on the safety of workers in explosive atmospheres, which contains the minimum requirements for health and safety of workers. The focus areas of the ATEX Operator Directive are: 

  • Prevention of explosions and protection against explosions,
  • Assessment of explosion risks,
  • Coordination duty,
  • Explosion protection document,
  • Classification of areas,
  • Minimum requirements for primary / secondary / tertiary safety and criteria for selection of equipment and protection systems,
  • Warning signs for marking areas,
  • Test intervals.

Hazardous Substances Ordinance

The Hazardous Substances Ordinance is the implementation of the EU Directive into national law. It is supplemented by technical rules for operating and hazardous substances (TRBS, TRGS).

Regulations for Manufacturers

Regulations and guidelines must be observed not only by system operators, but also by those who manufacture these systems. The manufacturers ensure that the equipment and systems being supplied are safe, based on the information provided by the operators. The core of the regulations is the ATEX Product Directive 2014/34/EU and the Explosion-protection Products Regulation.

ATEX Product Directive 2014/34/EU

The ATEX Product Directive 2014/34/EU is a directive for equipment and protection systems in potentially explosive atmospheres. It corresponds to articles ATEX 1000 or ATEX 95 or ATEX 114 of the EU Treaty.

Explosion-protection Products Regulation

The Explosion-protection Products Regulation is the implementation of the ATEX Product Directive 2014/34/EU into national law. It is the 11th regulation to the Product Safety Act and applies for the following products being brought to market:

  • New equipment and protection systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres,
  • Safety, control, and regulating devices outside of hazardous areas that contribute to/are required for safe operation with regard to explosion hazards,
  • Components installed in equipment/protection systems.

The focus areas are:

  • Subdivision into equipment*/components**,
  • Equipment groups,
  • Categories,
  • Placing on the market of equipment and components,
  • Basic safety requirements,
  • Certificates of conformity.

*Equipment: Set up in hazardous areas or containing hazardous areas;
**Component: Part of the equipment (e.g. filter cells)

Summary

For assessment of the explosion hazard in production facilities and plants, the aforementioned standards, directives and regulations must first be called upon. These provide information as to whether these systems principally fall under e.g. the ATEX Directive, and what must be observed if this applies. Thereby, the manufacturers must ensure that the delivered equipment is safe, based on the information provided by the operator, and the operator must guarantee a safe working environment. Thus, manufacturers and operators assume responsibility for the safety of equipment and people during production.

To the blog Overview