Are there explosive gases, vapors, mists or dusty areas in your work area? If so, you may need special equipment specifically designed for use in potentially explosive environments such as offshore platforms, mines, petrochemical plants and other industrial working environments. Here we learn how such environments can arise and why it's important to consider ATEX and NEC certifications when purchasing new equipment.

As an operations manager, you may be aware of potentially explosive environments that could catch fire under certain conditions. To ensure safe working environments, employers must classify them by zone and conduct a risk assessment. By taking these classifications into consideration, it is possible to determine the right types of tools that will work safely in each region.

What is ATEX?

ATEX, which stands for "ATmosphere EXplosible" (Explosive Environment), is the general name given to two European Directives regulating these environments:


  • ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU outlines the requirements and certification procedures for equipment used in potentially explosive atmospheres. It states that manufacturers are responsible for the safe performance of equipment that must be certified according to the technical specifications required for the areas in which it will be used.
  • The 99/92/EC Directive, also known as "ATEX 137" or the "ATEX Work Area Directive", provides employers with guidelines on how to designate different zones and provides minimum requirements for the protection of workers at risk of encountering explosive atmospheres. defines. The directive also explains how to select the correct group and category of equipment for different explosive atmospheres.


Did you know? In the UK this directive DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Directive) It is run by. ATEX is only valid for EU countries. However, in regions such as North America, similar work area zone systems, NEC (National Electrical Code) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).< /em>

Classification of ATEX areas

The ATEX 137 directive provides employers with guidelines on how to determine the different zones. Classification of these areas; It is based on the frequency and duration of occurrence of an explosive atmosphere, including gas, vapor and fog.



Zone 0

Places where explosive gases occur continuously or for long periods of time or frequently.

Region 1

Places where explosive gases are occasionally seen.

Region 2

Locations where hazardous gases are not normally present or appear only for short periods of time.

Classification of explosive gases:




Region 20

Places where flammable dust is present continuously or for long periods of time or frequently.

Region 21

Places where explosive dust clouds occur from time to time under normal operating conditions.

Region 22

Locations where explosive dust is unlikely to occur or occurs only for a short time.

Classification of combustible dust:

Industries known to have areas where explosive atmospheres may occur are mines and oil and gas or petrochemical facilities. These industries have worked towards developing higher levels of safety due to past accidents.


However, there are other industries with a high risk of explosive atmospheres, such as paint factories or mills. Therefore, it is very important to use tools that are properly certified for the actual work area as defined in the relevant regulations.

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