ATEX Directive: What do you need to know?

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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:

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.

appleton-productsWhat is required?

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.

Next, select equipment and protective systems appropriate for each zone. Appleton Group offers a 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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Are The Hazardous Locations in Your Facility Safe?

I’m sure you are reading the title of this blog and are thinking to yourself, “well of course, safety is our main concern!” As much as we all hope that this is true, the reality is that some of these hazardous locations might come as a surprise, you might be using the wrong products or not following the proper safety procedures.

Hazardous locations 2

So what exactly is a hazardous location? A hazardous location exists when a manufacturing, storage or handling process provides a fuel, consisting of a flammable gas, combustible dust, combustible flying or fiber, or some combination of these three elements. Those flammable components can be mixed with enough oxygen from the ambient air to form an explosive atmosphere between the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) or Lower Flammable Limit (LFL) and the Upper Explosive Limit (UEL) or Upper Flammable Limit (UFL).

Lives are lost every year when electrical components are misapplied.  Things get even worse when electrical components enter the complex world of hazardous locations.  The presence of volatile compounds and elements can cause even the most seasoned industry veterans to scratch their heads.  Coupled with the presence of multiple volatile elements, liabilities can make manufacturing and production susceptible to litigation when proper application and installation procedures are not followed.

Appleton put together a great Hazardous Locations Guide that provides a concise explanation of the various global classifications for hazardous locations.

The Hazardous Locations Guide can be downloaded HERE.

When specifying and installing hazardous location listed material, the ultimate responsibility lies on the end user coupled with their insurance underwriter.  A pro-active audit by your insurance company can help ensure compliance and provide a certified safe environment for your employees.

Hazardous locations 3

Using the proper products that are designed for the specific classifications and ensuring they are properly installed will lessen the chance of safety issues.  If you need more information regarding hazardous location products or require an assessment of your hazardous classified locations or installed product base, contact us today. We look forward to helping you maintain a safe workplace!