ATEX Directive: What do you need to know?


What is ATEX Directive and what does it mean for you?  As of July 2003, organizations in the EU were required to follow these directives to protect employees from risks associated with explosive atmospheres. Ultimately, ATEX was adopted to protect workers. Should this mean anything to you in the United States? Good question. Local companies are impacted when they develop and manufacture equipment for use in hazardous locations in the EU.

Here is an example of what the ATEX Directive means

A Missouri company builds machines for export to hazardous locations in Europe. This company must understand and meet the minimum requirements for ATEX, even though their facility is not at all impacted by the ATEX directive.

What is an explosive atmosphere? In the workplace, it can be caused by flammable gases, mists or vapors or by combustible dusts. These explosions can lead to death as well as significant damage to people, machinery and the surroundings. Using the correct equipment is necessary to minimize the risk of explosions. A few examples of workplaces with explosive atmospheres include chemical processing, spraying of paint and varnishes, LPG storage and filling, milk drying and flour production.

There are two ATEX directives, one for the manufacturer and one for the user of the equipment.

  • ATEX 95 EQUIPMENT directive 94/9/EC:

    Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.

  • ATEX 137 WORKPLACE directive 99/92/EC:

    Minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.

What do you need to do?

Identify Explosive Atmospheres

First, you must identify areas where explosive atmospheres may occur and classify them into zones. These classifications will be dependent on size and location, the likelihood of an explosive atmosphere existing, and its persistence if it does.

Select Equipment

Next, select equipment and protective systems appropriate for each zone. Appleton Group offers aAppleton Explosive Protection Equipment range of customizable flameproof enclosures that carry ATEX and IECEx Certifications. They are designed for use in Zone 1 and Zone 2 areas, where flammable gases or vapors are present, either continuously or intermittently, and in Zone 21 or 22 areas where flammable dusts are present.

Appleton also offers Flameproof Plugs and Sockets that are ATEX and IECEx Certified. They can be used in hazardous locations where plugs and sockets are used with portable or stationary electrical equipment. They are also used where weatherproof and robust equipment is required or in Zones 1, 2, 21 and 22 environments in the oil and gas industry.

If you build and ship to Europe and are interested in learning more about ATEX requirements, you can contact Mike Kelsch at or Craig Reynolds at for more information.

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