by Steve on September 21, 2010


When working in hazardous areas it is important to be aware of the risks of potentially explosive atmospheres and explosions which could be caused by flammable gasses.

There are two EU ATEX directives regarding the protection of employees from explosion risk in hazardous areas with a potentially explosive atmospheres.  These are ATEX 95 relating to equipment and ATEX 137 relating to workplace.  DSEAR is the UK implementation of the EU ATEX directive.

The ATEX directives and DSEAR regulations would generally concern electricians by the requirement to undertake CompEx training  and where there is a need to use explosion proof equipment and flame proof products.

What is ATEX?
ATEX derives its name from the French title of the 94/9/EC directive;  Appareils destinés à être utilisés en ATmosphères EXplosibles.  The aim of directive 94/9/EC is to allow the free trade of ‘ATEX’ equipment and protective systems within the EU by removing the need for separate testing and documentation for each member state.

Hazardous areas must be protected from effective sources of ignition.   They are classified into zones (0, 1, 2 for gas-vapor-mist and 20, 21, 22 for dust).  Zones 0 and 20 being those with the highest risk of an explosive atmosphere being present.

Equipment and protective systems intended to be used in these zoned areas must meet the requirements of the directive. Zone 0 and 20 require Category 1 marked equipment, zone 1 and 21 required Category 2 marked equipment and zone 2 and 22 required Category 3 marked equipment.  Enclosures and equipment of a high IP rating such as IP67 should be used in such hazardous areas.

Read more about the DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations) and EPS (Equipment and Protective Systems) Regulations.

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