On the 29th of March 2014, the Official Journal published the new ATEX directive. This directive aims to introduce identical requirements for the safety of equipment for use in explosive atmospheres in every country within the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Directive applies to all equipment to be used in an area where an explosive atmosphere might occur, which includes both electrical and mechanical equipment. It also applies to protective systems intended to prevent propagation of an explosion. Equipment and protective systems used outside the hazardous area but which contributes to safety in the hazardous area (sometimes known as associated equipment) is also covered.
The definition of an explosive atmosphere is defined in the Directive as follows:
– An explosive atmosphere: a “mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture”.
The following is an indication of atmospheric conditions:
– “A surrounding temperature range of -20°C to 80°C and a range of pressure between 0.8 bar and 1.1 bar may be appropriate as a basis for design and intended use of products”.
The Directive is not intended to apply to environments where there is no equipment. Like this exclusion, there are a few more. The following products are excluded from the scope of the ATEX Directive where application of the ATEX requirements would lead to anomalies in the application of other directives, like medical devices or personal protective equipment.
A distinction is made between two equipment groups:
- Equipment-group 1 includes equipment designed and equipped to function in underground parts of mines as well as those parts of surface installations of such mines. These mines are endangered by firedamp and/or combustible dust.
- Equipment-group 2 includes equipment intended for use in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by mixtures of air and gases, vapours or mists or by air/dust mixtures are present continuously.
Both equipment groups are divided into categories. Equipment-group 1 has two categories:
Equipment category M 2 comprises equipment designed to be capable of functioning in conformity with the operational parameters, while category M 1 includes equipment designed with additional special means of protection to be capable of functioning in conformity with the operational parameters.
Equipment-group 2 has three categories:
Equipment category 1 comprises equipment designed to ensure a very high level of protection. Equipment group 2 comprises equipment designed to ensure a high level of protection and Equipment group 2 comprises equipment designed to ensure a normal level of protection.
Annex I of the new ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU provides criteria to determine the classification of equipment-groups into categories.
Annex II of the new ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU provides essential health and safety requirements relating to the design and construction of the equipment. Equipment which falls under the scope of this Directive has to meet the -applicable- essential requirements in order to comply with the Directive. The manufacturer must ensure that the equipment complies with the Directive in order to draft the Declaration of Conformity.
The essential requirements are divided in:
1. General requirements;
2. Requirements applicable to both equipment-groups;
3. Supplementary requirements in respect of protective systems;
Obligations of manufacturer
The manufacturer must ensure that the equipment complies with this Directive in order to draft the Declaration of Conformity. Without this Declaration, the manufacturer is unable to obtain the CE-marking for his equipment. To determine whether the equipment complies with the Directive, its conformity has to be assessed. There are several procedures that can be followed in order to assess the conformity of the equipment. The relevant procedure depends on the type and group of equipment and these procedures are stated in Article 13 of Directive 2014/34/EU.
Furthermore, the manufacturer must ensure that the Technical Documentation meets the Technical Documentation requirements. These requirements are essential requirements and therefore they can be found in Annex I of the Directive 2014/34/EU. The technical documentation must contain enough information to determine whether the equipment meets the essential requirements. The technical documentation has to specify the applicable requirements and cover, as far as relevant for the assessment, the design, manufacture and operation of the product.
The technical documentation shall contain at least the following elements:
- a general description of the product;
- conceptual design and manufacturing drawings and schemes of components, sub-assemblies, circuits, etc.;
- descriptions and explanations necessary for the understanding of those drawings and schemes and the operation of the product;
- a list of the harmonised standards applied in full or in part the references of which have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union and, where those harmonised standards have not been applied, descriptions of the solutions adopted to meet the essential health and safety requirements of this Directive, including a list of other relevant technical specifications applied. In the event of partly applied harmonised standards, the technical documentation shall specify the parts which have been applied;
- results of design calculations made, examinations carried out, etc.;
- test reports.
Entry into force and application
The European Union Member States shall adopt, publish and apply the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the new ATEX Directive from 20 of April, 2016. By the 20th of April 2016, every Community operator subject to the ATEX Directive has to take the requirements of the new ATEX Directive in to account.
If you have any questions with regard to the ATEX Directive of if you need advice for your product please contact one of our experts.