The “worker protection directive” 1999/92/EC, ATEX 137, describes the “minimum requirements” for improving the health and safety of workers potentially at risk. It classifies the environment into zones and outlines which category of equipment can be used in each zone.
The directive focuses on the analysis and description of the risks, the zone definitions, and the maintenance practices in relation to site safety. The safety of an installation in a hazardous area is the result of co-operation between the equipment manufacturer, the installer and the end user.
ATEX 137 concentrates on the duties of the end user. Workers should be trained on hazardous area issues by the employer. Authorisation should be given to each employee working in a hazardous area. Explosion protection measures should be taken and an explosion protection document (EPD) can be established (an EPD is not specifically required by the DSEAR Regulations, though verification of the explosion safety of an area is required before first use and sufficient documentation to show area classification, required equipment for safe working, and aims of coordination of measures to protect employees) . When equipment is repaired, the end user has the responsibility to select an appropriate repair shop (see Baseefa Certification Limited).
The Employers’ obligations in relation to ATEX include assessing the site’s Sources of Hazard and likely sources of ignition, classification of the area into zones and marking all points of entry, as well as producing and maintaining documentation. The main obligations relating to employers are:
- Preparing an explosion protection document (EPD)
- Classifying the workplace into Zones where applicable
- Selecting ATEX 95 products according to Zone
- Using warning signs to identify places where explosive atmospheres may occur
Essentially, the employer is required to take all reasonable measures to prevent the formation of an explosive atmosphere in the workplace. Where this is not possible, measures must be taken to avoid the ignition of any potentially explosive atmosphere. In addition, the effects of any explosion must be minimised in such a way that workers are not put at risk.