Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres Directive (ATEX)
What is it?
The ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU regulates and outlines the technical requirements for equipment intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. The Directive applies to electrical and non-electrical protective devices and systems (surface and mining equipment) used in potentially explosive atmospheres and to items of equipment for outdoor use in potentially explosive atmospheres which have an impact on devices that are present in any such atmospheres.
For your information, potentially explosive atmospheres can be a mix of gas, dust, vapour etc. This Directive, which was recently aligned with the New Legislative Framework (NLF) is applicable as from 20 April 2016. Member states had to transpose it in their national law by 19 April 2016 at the latest.
The equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres cover a large range of products such as equipment used on fixed offshore platforms, petrochemical plants, mines, flour mills etc. To guarantee a uniform application of the Directive in all the member states, the Commission services have published guidelines which are regularly updated. With the entry into force of Directive 2014/34/EU, which replaces Directive 94/9/EC, all the ATEX guidelines will have to be adapted accordingly.
Why is it important?
It is important that such equipment is well regulated and meets the requirements of safety when placed on the EU market. As a consequence, the Directive requires specific conformity assessments according to the product to be used and the category it belongs to. As it is the case for other technical directives, the technical specificities are described in harmonised standards prepared by CEN and/or CENELEC.
The safety issues relating to this Directive and the uniform implementation in all member states is essential to achieve a true and transparent internal market. The interpretation guidelines that were developed through joint co-operation between manufacturers and regulators are a useful tool for all actors involved in the supply chain.
The Directive’s alignment with the New Legislative Framework (NLF) should bring further legal predictability. The recast-aligned ATEX Directive requires economic operators to provide authorities with the same traceability and compliance information as for other 'New Approach' directives: thereby, manufacturers know that the same administrative requirements apply to these Directives and authorities can more easily trace non-compliant products (see the section on the NLF).
How we’ve been engaged
Orgalime actively contributed to the alignment of the ATEX Directive with the New Legislative Framework (NLF) and its smooth implementation. We ensured that no changes occurred to the essential requirements and that no excessive administrative burden was added to manufacturers.
Orgalime has been a longstanding member of the ATEX experts group of the European Commission which not only discusses issues of interpretation of specific equipment but is the forum where guidelines can be tabled, discussed and updated. Upon request from members and through its active participation in the ATEX experts group, Orgalime tables guidelines for discussion by members of the ATEX experts group.