ATEX and DSEAR: new legislation for explosive atmospheres: new legislation will shortly become mandatory covering explosion protected 'Ex' equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, and the protection of workers in potentially explosive atmospheres. (Special Report).(firefighting)

On July 1, 2003 the 94/9/EC (ATEX Equipment) Directive on equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres will become mandatory. Thereafter, only 'Ex' equipment CE marked compliant with this ATEX Directive (and any other relevant mandatory directive), may be sold within the EU.

CE marking has been introduced, as part of the European Union's new approach to technical harmonisation, to identifying products that comply with all relevant EU directives. CE marked products can be sold throughout the EU without interference from national regulatory authorities, removing artificial trade barriers previously caused by individual countries' national standards. A secondary function of CE marking is to regulate safety.

The 94/9/EC (ATEX Equipment) Directive is aimed at manufacturers and distributors of 'Ex' Equipment. It covers both electrical and mechanical equipment, for use in Group I (mining) or Group II (surface/industrial) applications, on and offshore (but not on ships), and considers risk of ignition of potentially explosive gases, vapours, mists and dusts.

To comply with the Directive, both the design and production of the 'Ex' Equipment are considered. A Notified Body (Ex Test House) will assess against the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) listed in the Directive. …

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