3rd October 2016

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Industrial area with stairs and pipes performing in the dark

What is ATEX?

ATEX is an acronym of the French Atmospheriques Explosive. This European Directive amends and adds safety requirements for hazardous areas in the relevant national legislation in the member states of the European Union, bringing in a common standard. The purpose is to enable the sale of equipment across the European Union, without manufacturers having to satisfy different requirements for each national market.

Where equipment is to be used in potentially explosive atmospheres containing gas or combustible dust, it must comply with the ATEX directive.

Compliance with the ATEX Directive means reinforced safety aspects – safer design, more demanding testing procedures, and specific quality assurance measures for the design as well as the manufacturing process. It requires employers to protect both staff and local communities from the risk of an explosive atmosphere.

ATEX consists of two parts: ATEX 95, which concentrates on the duties of the manufacturers; and ATEX 137, which focuses on the end users’ obligations.

A number of people are killed or seriously injured in ATEX Areas each year in the UK. This happens in a wide range of industries, from those involving complex plant to simple storage vessels. Those killed include not only people working in the confined space but who try to rescue them without proper training and equipment. In the Offshore industry alone the figures of major injuries increased by 40% in 2009/2010, and 443 dangerous occurrences were reported.

How do we identify an ATEX area?

An ATEX area is defined by the probability that an explosion could occur.

The higher the probability of an explosive atmosphere occurring and persisting, the higher the integrity requirements of the equipment to be installed.

Example of Hazardous Area Zones

Commercial Bulk Storage Tank 

Petrol Station

Please note: This information should not be used to zone areas or decide whether equipment is suitable. Specialist ATEX advice must always be taken before making decisions. SA Equip LLP accept no liability for use of this information. E & O E.

To learn more about ATEX and ATEX certified equipment for hazardous areas, please visit for more information.