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Certificates and non-EU legislation

 ATEX Certificates and non-EU legislation

 ATEX 114

The product directive 2014/34/EU (ATEX 114) falls under CE legislation and provides rules to comply with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) for electrical and non-electrical devices and protection systems used in places where dust or gas explosion hazard may occur. This directive has been included the Dutch Commodities Act in full. Specific requirements are included in harmonized European and international standards, such as the EN-IEC 60079-0.

The ATEX 114 directive classifies equipment into groups and categories, depending on the scope and the level of protection offered. A device or product that has been assessed on the basis of the ATEX 114 can be recognized by the hexagonal Ex logo as shown above.

 

Article 114 of the current Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Lisbon Treaty, 2007) forms the basis for the current directive. This ATEX 114 directive was approved on 5 February 2014 and published on 29 March 2014. It replaces ATEX 95 (94/9/EC) that was used for more than 20 years. The ATEX 95 directive was based on Article 95 of the Amsterdam Treaty.

The ATEX 114 directive took effect on April 20, 2016 and all new explosion-safe equipment in Europe must comply with this directive. The essential health and safety requirements have not changed, neither have the harmonized standards. Therefore, no substantive technical changes to products, components, devices or machines are required.

Procedural changes in ATEX Certifications

However, manufacturers must take into account a number of procedural changes in the certification process of their explosion-safe products and the accompanying documentation compared to the old ATEX 95 directive. The most important changes are:

  • Existing ATEX certificates remain valid, but when adapting or renewing an existing ATEX certificate it falls under ATEX 114;
  • An ATEX certificate or EC-type examination certificate is now called the EU-type examination certificate;
  • The EC declaration of conformity (usually referred to as the CE declaration) is now called the EU declaration of conformity. All devices must be accompanied by an EU declaration of conformity in accordance with ATEX 114;
  • The requirements for importers are stricter. For example, in addition to the manufacturer's details, the name and address details of the importer must be on the ATEX products. In addition, importers must check whether the products actually meet all requirements before they are marketed in the EU;
  • Under the ATEX 114 directive there will be more product supervision from the relevant authorities;
  • All Notified Bodies (also known as NoBo) must acquire a new accreditation, the old ATEX 95 accreditation will not continue automatically. In addition, the requirements for Notified Bodies will become

 

ATEX 153

Directive 1999/92/EC, better known as ATEX 137 but recently renamed ATEX 153, is one of the so-called "special directives" that lay down requirements for working conditions in specific industries. In this case, this applies to employees working in areas where there is a risk of explosion due to the presence of flammable substances (gas, spray, vapor, dust). The directive describes the minimum safety requirements for employers to create a healthy and safe working environment for employees at risk from explosive atmospheres. In the Netherlands this directive is enshrined in the Health and Safety Act.

Since 1 July 2006 all employers must comply with these ATEX requirements. In practice, this does not always seem to be the case. The Social Affairs and Employment Inspectorate (SZW) is the authority in the Netherlands that supervises compliance with the ATEX 153 requirements. SZW played an informative role in this until 2007, but has since continued to enforce it. Enforcement will often be limited to large chemical companies that also fall under strict legislation such as the Seveso directive. The Seveso-III directive (2012/18/EU) pertains to the hazard management of major accidents involving dangerous substances. 

Directive 1999/92/EC fell under Article 137 of the Amsterdam Treaty until the end of 2007 and was therefore also referred to as the ATEX 137 directive. However, since the end of 2007, this directive falls under the implementation of Article 153 of the Lisbon Treaty. The directive is now called the ATEX 153 directive. The directive itself has remained unchanged and no new directive has been announced yet.

Potentially explosive areas must be clearly marked for workers by a warning triangle containing the text “EX” in black on a yellow background.

Standards and practice ATEX guidelines

The European directives prescribe the minimum health and safety requirements at a somewhat higher level of abstraction. In addition, standards have been drawn up with very specific requirements with regard to the assessment of explosion risks, the design of equipment, installation and maintenance.

These standards are a good and useful tool to establish whether the requirements of the directive have been met. However, a device designed according to these harmonized standards only offers "the presumption of conformity" with the essential health and safety requirements of the ATEX 114 directive. Deviations from the standards are allowed as long as the essential health and safety requirements are met. In practice this proves to be very difficult and it is therefore advisable to apply the standards without any deviations. See chapter 15 for the most relevant ones.

Standards that provide "the presumption of conformity" with the directive are called harmonized standards. They may not always be the latest version, although usually this is only a matter of time. The list of the most up-to-date harmonized standards is published by the European Commission in the Official Journal which can be found on the following internet page: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/european-standards/harmonised-standards/equipment-explosive-atmosphere_en.

In the Netherlands standards can be purchased from the NEN (Netherlands Standardization Institute) in Delft. This can be done easily via: https://nen.nl/norm-kopen. Standards can be delivered either on paper or digitally.

In addition to standards, so-called codes of practice have been drawn up. A code of practice is a tool to implement the requirements of a standard. The best known is the NPR 7910, a Dutch code of practice written to implement the zoning requirements of the EN 60079-10 standard. This code of practice provides a little more practical guidance than the standard itself, but is also slightly stricter than the European standard.

A Dutch code of practice (NPR) is only valid in the Netherlands.

What does the IECEx directive mean?

IECEx stands for “International Electrotechnical Commission system for certification to standards relating to equipment for use in Explosive atmospheres”. The purpose of the IECEx system is to facilitate worldwide trading in explosion-safe equipment and services while maintaining the required safety. At the moment, the IECEx system is part of current legislation only in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore but the goal is to eventually grow into a global system. IECEx is often accepted in other countries, but is regarded there as an alternative to local regulations.

The IECEx system currently consists of 5 modules:

  • IECEx 01: Basic rules
  • IECEx 02: Equipment for use in hazardous areas
  • IECEx 03: Repair companies
  • IECEx 04: IECEx Conformity Marking
  • IECEx 05: Personnel competences

IECEx 02 is comparable to the European ATEX 114. With regard to work safety, module 05 is important under IECEx; this is the first formal certification scheme for employees that makes it possible to check and prove qualifications.

The standards of the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) are used directly under the IECEx certification scheme. Local certification schemes such as ATEX also use these technical IEC standards, but often with additional local requirements. The European EN standards and the Dutch NEN standards under ATEX are based on these IEC standards, but have additional requirements with regard to equipment groups and categories. 

This makes IECEx a good basis to obtain local certifications. The technical requirements are usually the same, with additions in the field of marking and documentation. If the IECEx requirements are met, it is relatively easy to obtain local certifications in countries such as Brazil, China and Europe. In addition, a product with an IECEx certificate can be marketed directly in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

For IECEx, the standards are leading, which means that products must meet their respective requirements. With IECEx 02 there is little room for interpretation and deviation from the standard is almost impossible. 

The IECEx test report is an important information carrier and therefore stricter requirements apply than for an ATEX test report. All IECEx accredited Notified Bodies must accept each other's IECEx test reports so that information can easily be exchanged. Notified Bodies also use the IECEx test reports for the ATEX certification of products.

ATEX Certificates and legislation

There are various types of certificates for equipment intended to be placed in explosive atmospheres. Onecondition for issuing a certificate is that an official, public certification scheme exists. This can be either at anational, European or international level. Depending on the certification scheme, the form and content certificates may differ. Some certifications are required by law, others are obtained on a voluntarily basis from an inspection authority and yet others are proprietary, issued by the manufacturer himself.

Approval ATEX procedures 

Manufacturers of Ex-equipment can choose from a number of routes to eventually market their equipment. As an example, the routes for serial production, as described in the ATEX 114 directive, are shown in brief below.

Kind of equipment Route(s) to follow Type of certificate
All Category 1 equipment (authorized for use in Zone 0) and electrical equipment of Category 2 (authorized for use in Zone 1) Type approval of the product + certification and subsequent checks of the production site by an ATEX Notified Body EU Type Examination Certificate for the product and a Quality Assurance for the place of production site.
Non-electrical equipment of category 2 (approved for use in zone 1) Drafting a Technical Construction File by the manufacturer + sending it to an ATEX Notified Body Declaration by the ATEX Notified Body that the file has been received and that it will be archived for 10 years after the last production date.
Equipment of category 3 (approved for use in zone 2) Drafting of a Technical Construction File by the manufacturer None

Table 13.1 Routes for placing ex-equipment on the market

On the basis of the followed route, the manufacturer is entitled to label the product, or have it labelled, using the CE mark and to draw up a so-called EU Declaration of Conformity, stating that the product complies with all applicable European directives, and hence with the ATEX directive.

Conditions for maintaining the ATEX Certificate

Regardless of the route the manufacturer chooses, he will ultimately have to provide the user with at least the following:

  • the product;
  • the accompanying manual;
  • the corresponding EU declaration. 

By doing so, he indicates that he has fulfilled his responsibilities and obligations under the ATEX 114 legislation. These are now transferred to the user. The user must follow all instructions in the supplied manual. These instructions should at least contain the following:

  • safety instructions for installation, initial start-up, adjustment, further use, maintenance, repair and overhaul;
  • information concerning the intended use, so that the user can make a decision as to whether the device can be used safely in the area in question under the foreseeable conditions of use;
  • technical data (voltage, current, power, pressure, etc.);
  • safety warnings when using the device;
  • specific conditions for use ("X" marking);
  • data on special tools to be used;
  • a list of standards (with year of publication) the tool complies with (or a copy of the ATEX certificate);

The user must follow all these instructions in order to maintain the validity of the certification. Under the following conditions, it can no longer be assumed that the device is explosion-safe:

  • in the case of improper or poor maintenance;
  • when using non-original spare parts;
  • in the event of modifications that substantially alter the unit’s specifications. In that case the user is at fault, the manufacturer is not liable.


Moulded solenoid valve from 1995

The figure shows the marking of a molded solenoid valve, certified in 1995 by the NPT in Europe using the C generation standards, temperature class T5 (maximum operating temperature 100 ºC). Also note the warning text "Besondere Bedingungen beachten". These special operating conditions are always listed in the unit's certificate. For "m" equipment, there is usually the obligation to secure the unit with a specific fuse. In the case of "special operating conditions", the unit is always marked with an "X". The X is always behind the certificate number (here PTB No. Ex-95.C.2153 X).

Non-European certification schemes

The IECEx 02 certification scheme for explosion-safe equipment is a carbon copy of ATEX, with two major differences:

  • It is currently limited to electrical equipment;
  • Unlike ATEX 114, for zone 2 equipment it also requires a certificate from one of the participating Certification Bodies.

Current Legislation in North America and Canada (UL, FM, CSA, QPS) leads to a different form of certification than is common in Europe under ATEX 114 legislation.

In general, it comes down to this:

  • A manufacturer obtains a Certificate of Conformity for his product on the basis of a type test at an inspection body. This is mandatory for all electrical equipment for use in hazardous areas (divided into zones or divisions). There are no specific explosion protection requirements for non-electrical equipment;
  • An application for an explosion protection certificate always includes a mandatory assessment by the inspection body with regard to other hazards, such as electrical safety and EMC behavior. Proprietary certification, which is common in Europe, does not exist in North America;
  • Before a manufacturer can start production, the production site must be approved. This audit, the so-called Initial Factory Evaluation (IFE), is carried out by personnel from either UL, FM, CSA or QPS, regardless of where in the world the production site is located;
  • After obtaining the approval of the production site, the manufacturer can start production. A quarterly, half-yearly or annual inspection of the production site is held. The frequency depends on the type and quantity of products produced;
  • For some parts or materials used (e.g., plastics) there is a re-examination program, wherethese materials are regularly re-tested by the inspection body;
  • When the standard on which the certificate is based changes, the manufacturer must have his product re-assessed and certified. If he fails to do so, or fails to do so in time, the certification expires;
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