Safety in explosion-prone environments: An overview of the ATEX directives
ATEX standards 114 and 153 are the most important parts of the broader ATEX-directives. These norms describe safety requirements for protection systems and safety devices used in potentially explosive areas. Compliance with these ATEX standard is essential to ensure worker safety and prevent accidents in potentially explosive environments.
Potentially explosive areas are places where dust, inflammable liquids or gasses are present. Such as: chemical factories, mines, and refineries.
To make sure that the equipment and protection systems are safe to use in explosion-prone environments, a thorough understanding of the specific requirements of each standard and the implementation of appropriate measures is required.
To adhere to the ATEX directive, manufacturers need to make sure that their products are designed and being testing with the prevailing standards. Additionally they need to provide documentation and markings that confirm the adherence of the standards.
Employers have the duty to make sure that their employees have enough knowledge to use equipment and safety systems correctly.
ATEX standard 114
ATEX standard 114 provides guidance on; the design, construction and testing of non-electrical equipment used in the explosion-prone environment.
The main purpose of this standard is to ensure that non-electrical equipment is designed to minimise the risk of energy release in hazardous areas that could cause an explosion.
ATEX standard 114 covers a wide range of equipment, including mechanical valves, compressors,
and pumps. The standard contains specific requirements for the materials and design features to be used for these products.
Equipment should be designed to minimise the risk of static electricity , sparks, or other potential ignition sources that could cause an explosion.
Prevention, restriction, and safeguarding
The principles of prevention, restriction, and safeguarding create the basis of the requirements for devices and safety systems under the ATEX standard 114.
- Prevention involves designing equipment to minimise the risk of ignition in an explosive environment.
- Protection refers to the use of protective systems to limit the consequences of a possible explosion.
- Restriction (Migitation) involves designing equipment to minimise the effects of any explosion.
The design requirements for equipment covered by ATEX standard 114 include the use of specific materials and construction techniques to reduce the risk of ignition.
- Prevent the accumulation of inflammable combustibles by incorporating drains.
- Potential sources of static electricity should be avoided by using non-static materials.
- Use protective measures such as explosion vents or flame retardants. This prevents the release of explosive energy.
- Equipment must also be resistant to the effects of an explosion, e.g. by using heavy materials and construction techniques.
ATEX standard 114 requires equipment to be tested to ensure it meets design environments and is safe for use in an explosive environment. Testing can consist of various procedures such as, stimulated explosion tests, pressure tests and other performance tests. The results of these tests should be documented and made available to customers and regulatory authorities.
Documentation and marking requirements
ATEX standard 114 requires manufacturers to provide documentation and markings confirming that the product complies with the standard. This documentation may include; technical specifications, design drawings, test reports, and user manuals. The device itself must also be marked indicating its suitability for use in explosive atmospheres and confirming its compliance with the standard.
ATEX standard 153 provides guidance on the use of portable and mobile electrical equipment in potentially explosive environments. This standard is there to ensure that mobile and portable electrical equipment is designed and built to be used safely in explosive environments.
ATEX standard 153 covers, among others, lighting, hand tools, communication equipment and other mobile devices. The requirements of ATEX standard 153 apply to all electrical equipment to be used in a potentially explosive environment (zones 1, 2, 21, and 22).
ATEX standard 153 contains specific requirements for the design and construction of electrical equipment. The standard requires minimising the risk of ignition in explosive requirements. This includes using non-sparking materials and designing electrical circuits to prevent the release of sparks or heat.
- The release of explosive energy must be prevented. This can be done using safety barriers, such as intelligent safe circuits.
- The standard also requires electrical equipment to be resistant to the effects of an explosion. This can be done by using heavy-duty materials and construction techniques that can withstand the forces of an explosion.
- The equipment must prevent fragmentation in the event of an explosion.
ATEX standard 153 requires electrical equipment to be tested to ensure compliance with design requirements and to be safe for use in explosive environments. Testing may include various procedures, simulated explosion tests, pressure tests, and other performance tests. The results of these tests should be documented and made available to customers and regulatory authorities.
Documentation and marking requirements
ATEX standard 153 requires manufacturers to provide documentation and marking demonstration compliance with the standard. Documentation may include technical specifications, design drawings, test reports, and operating instructions. There must also be marking on the equipment itself indicating its suitability for use in explosive atmospheres and confirming its compliance with the standard.
The marking should be easily visible and durable and include information such as the maximum surface temperature of the equipment, the zone(s) in which the equipment can be used and any special conditions of use. The marking should also indicate the name of the manufacturer, the model or serial number of the appliance, and the date of manufacture.
ATEX standard 153 requires equipment to be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure it remains safe for use in explosive environments. The frequency of inspections and maintenance can vary depending on the type of equipment and the conditions in which it is used.
To sum up, manufacturers must ensure that their products meet the requirements of these standards and provide documentation and marking confirming compliance. Employers should also ensure that workers are adequately trained to use equipment and protective systems in accordance with their intended use. By following these guidelines, companies can create a safer working environment and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in explosive environments.
ATEX standards 114 and 153 provide specific guidelines for the design, construction and testing of non-electrical equipment and mobile and portable electrical equipment used in potentially explosive environments. Compliance with these standards is essential to ensure the safety of workers in these environments and prevent accidents.