If your company’s electronic or electrical equipment is intended for use in Hazardous Areas (atmospheres that are potentially explosive), you will surely know that it has to comply with strict standards and be equipped with adequate safety systems.
ATEX ("ATmosphère EXplosible") certification provide the basic regulation in this field. In particular: ATEX Directive 1999/92/EC sets out the minimum requirements for the safety and health of workers operating in hazardous areas and ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU (which has replaced the previous 94/9/EC without technical changes) is concerned with essential safety requirements for products operating in hazardous areas.
How can you be sure that your company respects ATEX regulations? Below we will focus on machinery and products: here’s what you need to know.
First of all, Directive 2014/34/EU divides products into groups and categories. Knowing which group and category a specific device belongs is essential to determine procedures to follow for its conformity assessment.
Group I: products to be used in underground mines. They are divided, according to the level of protection, into:
- M1 Category: very high level;
- M2 Category: high level, they must be switched off in the presence of gas.
Group II: products intended for use in all other places. They are divided, according to the level of protection, into:
- Category 1: very high level
- Category 2: high level
- Category 3: normal level
All Category 1 and 2 electrical equipment must be certified by one ATEX Notified Bodies, while Category 3 devices are subject to self-declaration with internal manufacturing control.
Each equipment used in Hazardous Areas must bear, in addition to the manufacturer's data, clear and indelible indication of:
- CE mark and ATEX certification hexagonal mark;
- EU-type examination or type examination number;
- identification number of the Notified Body (if not subject to self-declaration);
- group and category;
- other marking requested by used standard.
When purchasing a new product, note that it has to be supplied by the manufacturer with a Declaration of Conformity to EU Regulations, the operating instructions and, if necessary, all the essential safety information. Depending on the equipment category, manufacturers are also required to implement a Quality System to ensure that the product has been manufactured according to the certified prototype.