ATEX – a term that you hear quite often and quite often confuses. Especially in areas where explosive mixtures occur due to the presence of dusts, this is a topic that is discussed again and again. This is also the case in 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. In this blog post, we want to highlight the most important regulatory requirements that exist for equipment operators and equipment manufacturers.
The importance of ATEX for operators and manufacturers
The topic ATEX is about the legal basis for explosion protection in the EU. The associated directives define minimum requirements for machines in potentially explosive atmospheres to ensure the protection of people and equipment. A distinction is made between manufacturers and operators of these plants.
Regulations for the operator of facilities
As an operator of equipment covered by the ATEX Directive, there are some regulations that should be followed when handling these mixtures and substances. For the operator, the focus is on the 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 Article ATEX118a or ATEX 137 of the EU Treaty. It is a directive on the safety of workers in explosive atmospheres, which contains minimum requirements for the health and safety of workers. The focal points of the ATEX operator directive are:
- Prevention of explosions and protection against explosions,
- Explosion Risk Assessment,
- Duty to Coordinate,
- Explosion Protection Document,
- Division of the areas
- Minimum requirements for primary / secondary / tertiary safety and criteria for selection of equipment and protective systems,
- Warning signs to identify the areas,
- Inspection intervals.
Ordinance on Hazardous Substances
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 the manufacturer
Not only for operators of the plants, but also for those who manufacture these plants, there are regulations and guidelines to be observed. Manufacturers shall ensure that the equipment to be supplied is safe based on the information provided by the operator. The core of the regulations are 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 protective systems in potentially explosive atmospheres. It complies with articles ATEX 1000 or ATEX 95 or ATEX 114 of the EU Treaty.
Explosion Protection Products Ordinance
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 to making available on the market for:
- new equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres,
- Safety, control, regulating devices outside hazardous areas that contribute to/require safe operation with regard to explosion hazards,
- Components built into equipment/protection systems.
The focal points are
- Subdivision into devices*/components**,
- Equipment groups,
- Placing on the market of equipment and components,
- Basic safety requirements,
- Certificates of Conformity.
*Device: placed in hazardous areas or contains hazardous areas;
**Component: part of the device (e.g. filter cells)
To assess the risk of explosion in production facilities and plants, the aforementioned standards, directives and regulations must first be consulted. These provide information as to whether these systems fall in principle under the ATEX directive, for example, and what must be observed if they do. In this context, manufacturers must ensure that the equipment supplied is safe based on the information provided by the operator, and the operator must guarantee a safe working environment. Thus, manufacturers and operators bear responsibility for the safety of equipment and people during production.