WHAT IS ATEX?
ATEX is the name given to a set of European Directives relating to Hazardous Area Inatallation (Flammable Atmospheres) that takes its name from the French "Atmospheres Explosibles".
It spells out a set of Essential Health & Safety Requirements (EHSR) which when followed should enable everyone in the industry to operate safety and to avoid incident. Two separte directives have been introduced covering Equipment (94/9/EC) and Safety of Working Operations (1999/92/EC).
As from July 2003 the new EU ATEX Directive (94/9/EC) requires most products used in potentially explosive environments to be ATEX compliant.
Existing workplaces have until 30 June 2006 to comply with the regulations which includes such activites as zoning, and carrying out risk assessments.
If any new equipment is installed, it has to be ATEX compliant or if any substantial modifications are made to existing equipment it needs to be brought into compliance with ATEX.
However, there is no requirement to replace equipment that is already in use as long as the user has had it risk assessed, and can therefore prove that it is still safe to be used in the envrionment.
End users have the ultimate responsibility to ensure ATEX compliance.