A potentially explosive atmosphere exists when a mixture of air gases, vapours, mists, or dusts combine in a way that can ignite under certain operating conditions.
Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX) cover a range of products, including those used on fixed offshore platforms, petrochemical plants, mines, and flour mills, amongst others.
The ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU covers equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. The directive defines the essential health and safety requirements and conformity assessment procedures, to be applied before products are placed on the EU market. It is aligned with the new legislative framework policy, and it is applicable from 20 April 2016, replacing the previous Directive 94/9/EC.
A guidance document on the ATEX directive transition from 94/9/EC to 2014/34/EU (371 KB) is available, with a list of frequently asked questions and answers.
National authorities are responsible for implementing the directive in the EU by transposing its provisions into their legislation. These texts have direct effect in the first instance. As a result, EU countries and others who apply the directive’s requirements are responsible for implementation and enforcement, as well as the management of notified bodies.
With national legislation directly affecting manufacturers and other economic operators, it is recommended to discuss specific issues they may have with national contact points (see below).
Guidance documents are approved by the formal ATEX committee working group and made available to assist those who need to apply the directive.
These resulted from cooperation between various stakeholders. The continuous revision of guidance documents is carried out by the ATEX working parties based on their analysis of issues that continue to arise, in the course of implementing the directive.
The ATEX working parties comprise the committee, the working group of the committee, the administrative cooperation (AdCo) group and the European coordination of notified bodies group (ExNBG).
European harmonised standards for Directive 2014/34/EU are produced by the European Standardisation Organisations
Their references are published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
The ATEX 'workplace' Directive 1999/92/EC deals with the minimum requirements for improving the level of health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.
This directive complements the responsibilities of manufacturers under Directive 2014/34/EU by setting out the responsibilities of employers. For its implementation, see the non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 1999/92/EC.
The 'workplace' directive is under the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion.