What is ATEX?

The ATEX directive consists of two EU directives describing what equipment and work environment is allowed in an environment with an explosive atmosphere. ATEX derives its name from the French title of the 94/9/EC directive: Appareils destinés à être utilisés en ATmosphères EXplosives.

Explosive atmosphere

A mixture of flammable substances in the form of a gas, vapour or mist with air under atmospheric conditions in such proportions that it can be ignited by excessive temperature arcs or sparks. The atmospheres are classified in zones.

ATEX Zones

"Zone 0" or protection class, "Exia" are terms not familiar to most lay-people, yet they have serious implications for anyone not complying with the intended certification. It essentially means that that particular area or Zone is classified as a hazardous location which has explosive gases present, with limited oxygen flow. Similarly "Zone 1" or protection class "Exib" are terms used for slightly less hazardous locations, i.e. where there is greater ratio of oxygen present. Zone 0 protection "Exia", intrinsically safe, maintains two simultaneous faults within its own circuitry as opposed to Zone 1 (Exib) as maintaining one fault. The reason for this is that once ventilation in a Coal or Gold Mine has been cut you automatically have an Exia situation. Equipment not suited for Zone 0 must then be switched off. For anyone wishing to use equipment within these Zones, one would have to, by law, use Certified equipment known as "Intrinsically Safe". Intrinsic Safety in the workplace is becoming more of an issue today than ever before. Many countries have implemented stringent laws and trade unions are making more issues of Safety to protect their members. Previously there has been a tendency to turn a blind eye to violations of these life threatening, potentially catastrophic issues, but with severe damages claims and direct and personal accountability today on the shoulders of the directors of companies and senior management, it would be both unprofessional and reckless for these executives to continue overlooking these issues whilst there are now affordable and viable products available from ATEX Global ©

Classifications unraveled

There are a lot of terms in the ATEX world, you can read a long time about it and still be left clueless. Below you will find a nice overview with an example that really puts things in perspective.