The ATEX directive consists of two EU directives that have been law since July 2003 describing what equipment and work space is allowed in an environment with an explosive atmosphere and sets the minimum safety standards for both the Employer and Manufacturer.
ATEX derives its name from the French title of the 94/9/EC directive: Appareils destinés à être utilisés en ATmosphères EXplosibles. The ATEX 95 equipment directive 94/9/EC (Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres) is dedicated to manufacturers. The ATEX 137 workplace directive 99/92/EC (Minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres) is dedicated to End Users and Employers and states that they must classify areas where hazardous explosive atmospheres may occur into zones based on the likelihood of an explosive atmosphere occurring and its persistence.
Article 100a in the ATEX DIRECTIVE 94/9/EC highlights manufacturer responsibilities for equipment such as gas detection systems. It describes:
- The requirements of equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres
- The requirements of safety and controlling devices intended for use outside of potentially explosive atmospheres but required for the safe functioning of equipment and protective systems (e.g. Controllers)
- The Classification of Equipment Groups into Categories
- The Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) relating to the design and construction of the equipment/systems
The ATEX directive requires the products to be assigned a group and a category. Furthermore, an ATEX-approved product must be complete with his EU conformity declaration, his manual and a displayed CE marking. The product must meet a recognized performance standard, such as EN 60079-29-1:2007 for flammable gas detectors. See a typical ATEX marking below for more details and explanation.
IECEx, which stands for International Electrotechnical Commission Explosive, is a voluntary system providing an internationally accepted means of proving compliance with IEC standards. As IEC standards are used in many national approval schemes, IECEx certification can be used to support national compliance. The objective of IECEx standards is fostering international confidence in the product assessment process and maintaining the required level of safety.
While ATEX is a mandatory application limited to the European Union, IECEx is an international certification recognized and accepted in several countries to help build confidence in the safety of Ex equipment. It also facilitates international trade of equipment and services for use in explosive atmospheres and reduces testing and certification costs and time to market for instrument manufacturers.
Both IECEx and ATEX align with the same standards (IEC-EN 60079), so in terms of technical content are very similar. As with ATEX, IECEx provides assurance that everything from equipment manufacturing and installation through to the operation and maintenance of the certified products comply with IEC international standards.