ATEX 137 mandatory requirements

Are ‘End Users’ of hazardous area equipment aware of the ATEX 137 Directive mandatory requirements, operative throughout the EU? This is the question that IMS Research was asked to investigate, by suppliers of such equipment, obviously confused by the feedback from their own sales engineers who had been approaching potential customers. IMS set up an emailed survey of process industry users in Europe and the Middle East: the responses showed that almost a quarter of the responsible managers in these plants were unaware of the mandatory requirements of the ATEX 137 Directive. (Link)
EU Directive 99/92/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 137′ or the ‘ATEX Workplace Directive’) describes the minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres. In Great Britain the requirements of Directive 99/92/EC were put into effect through regulations 7 and 11 of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).

The minimum requirements of these mandatory directives are that the employer must have classified his plant into Zones, to define any risk from the presence of explosive gases OR dusts, and he must ensure that properly classified equipment is in use in these zones. The different zones have to be marked, on entrances and exits. Now many plant managers would comment that they have been running for 20 years without a problem: this is also covered, in that equipment already in use before July 2003 can continue to be used indefinitely, PROVIDED THAT a risk assessment shows it is safe to do so. You have to do the work, and write, and record, that risk assessment.

More worrying from the IMS research, is that while they had 25% of respondents unaware of ATEX137, these were within the 150 responses that came from people who understood the question! What proportion of the rest of their database are not responding because they have no-one who is thinking about such safety?
Even within the respondents again, 20% of them felt their plants did not comply with ATEX137. Policing of these standards by government agencies is growing year by year, and the fines and shutdowns they impose can really damage your plant performance, almost as much as an explosion.

Consult the HSE website for explanations of current workplace regulations in the UK at least. (Link)

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