ATEX Equipment Manufacturers: Regulations and Guidelines

There are many manufacturers that make specialist equipment suitably for use in explosive environments. These specialist testers and equipment must be made with the utmost care and attention, with clearly marked ATEX certification that tells users exactly where the equipment is applicable for use in.

All manufacturers of explosive-protected equipment must completely with the requirements of the Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996. These are more commonly referred to as ATEX regulations.

All equipment intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, including machines, apparatus, fixed or mobile devices, control components and related instrumentation, detection or prevention systems, is governed over by these regulations. The equipment is defined as:

  • intended for the generation, transfer, storage, measurement, control and conversion of energy or the processing of material and which are
  • capable of causing an explosion through their own potential sources of ignition

Equipment Groups

Under the regulations, ATEX equipment is divided into two specific groups:

  • Group 1 – Equipment intended for use in underground mining applications with dangers such as fire, damp and combustible dust
  • Group II – all other places at risk of explosive atmospheres

These are also further divided up into subcategories to better understand the specific application for equipment usage.

Equipment Sub-GroupDefinition
Group I, Category M1The equipment within this category is designed to remain functional even in the event of rare incidents relating to equipment with an explosive atmosphere present
Group I, Category M2Specially designed to de-energise in the event of an explosive atmosphere developing
Group II, Category 1 This equipment is used in continuous-risk explosive atmospheres where there is a realistic constant risk of ignition
Group II, Category 2Equipment designed to be used in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by gases, vapours, mists or air/dust mixtures are likely to occur
Group II, Category 3Equipment designed to be used in areas in which there is a low risk of explosive atmospheres developing, and if they do, it will be only for a small period of time or infrequently

 Developing Explosive Prevention Equipment

This CordEx camera is designed to be used in environments where normal cameras might cause an ignition

This CordEx camera is designed to be used in environments where normal cameras might cause an ignition

It is the responsibility of any manufacturer planning to develop this type of equipment to prevent combustion of the atmosphere as best as possible using integrated explosion safety.

The equipment should prevent explosive atmospheres from forming by stopping elements that could cause combustion from forming and should take into full account electrical and non-electrical ignition sources to create an acceptable level of protection.

One of the most important aspects is using materials that will not trigger an explosion at any point over the foreseeable operating life of the equipment being developed. This is required to be adhered to by the ATEX Regulations 1996 which states that it “must not be possible for a reaction to take place between the materials used and the constituents of the potentially explosive atmosphere that could impair explosion detection”.

To do so, the manufacturer must consider the material’s ability to resist explosive reactions and determine the corrosion and wear resistance, electrical conductivity, impact strength and ageing resistance and the effects of temperature variations upon said material.

Potential Hazards in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres

As a manufacturer, it is the responsibility of the company to ensure their equipment prevents hazards from arising as a result of several factors.

Type of HazardDefinition
Ignition SourcesEvery piece of explosion-proof equipment must prevent sparks, flames, electrical arcs, high surface temperature, acoustic energy, electromagnetic waves and all other errors that could cause an ignition.
Static ElectricityElectrostatic charges capable of resulting in dangerous discharges must be prevented by means of appropriate measures
Stray Electric and Leakage CurrentsConductive parts must be constructed in such a way that dangerous corrosion, overheating of surfaces and sparks cannot form and potentially ignite the atmosphere
OverheatingFriction and impact between parts in the equipment must be limited as far as possible to ensure regulated temperatures.
Pressure Compensation OperationsAny equipment that relies on pressure must be regulated to prevent pressure compensations from generating shock waves or compressions that could cause ignition
Power FailureIn the result of a power failure the equipment must be protected against ignition. It is best practice to allow the system to run independently from main power sources.
ConnectionsEquipment and protective systems must be fitted with suitable cable and conduit entries. When equipment and protective systems are intended for use in combination with other equipment and protective systems, the interface must be safe

Equipment must also be designed to be capable of performing their intended function safely, even in changing environmental conditions, in the presence of voltage, humidity, vibration, contamination and other external effects.

It must also be protected against mechanical and thermal stress and capable of withstanding attack by existing or foreseeable aggressive substances.

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