Learn about ATEX certification and area classification, including applicable HazLoc Directives, markings, and the difference between Groups and Categories.

What are the applicable ATEX Directives?

Organizations in the European Union (EU) must follow directives to help protect employees from explosion risk in areas with an explosive atmosphere.

There are two ATEX Directives (one for the manufacturer and one for the user of the equipment):

  • ATEX Directive 2014/34EU, Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (replaced the ATEX 95 equipment Directive 94/9/EC on April 20, 2016 – See below for details)
  • ATEX Workplace Directive 1999/92/EC, Minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres

The new Directive 2014/34/EU is effective from April 20, 2016, replacing 94/9/EC, and it will affect manufacturers for the following:

  • The Directive 2014/34/EU is mandatory for manufacturers on April 20, 2016 as is stated in article 44 of the directive for any new or revised certifications. New certifications after this date shall comply with the new directive and its requirements.
  • There is a new requirement for risk analysis to be provided to the Notified Body (UL) by the Manufacturer for all EU Type Examination certificates and Certificates of Conformity (from April 20, 2016).
  • EC Type examination Certificates should remain valid after implementation of the new Directive according to article 41. Over time it would be required to have them updated based on changes in the “state of the art” but such action shall be initiated by the manufacturer following current practice. We have not received any fixed timeline for update of EC-Type Examination Certificates into EU Type Examination Certificates. A three years limitation applies to Quality Assurance Notifications based on the quality assessment re-certification cycle. Consideration of harmonized (current) standards listed in the Official Journal (OJ) will be required as part of the update.
  • Manufacturers must update their EU Declaration of Conformity to refer to the new directive 2014/34/EU by April 20, 2016.
  • Importers (into EEA) should note a wide range of new requirements (incl. marking) that will be applicable as of April 20, 2016.

Link to resources:

How are ATEX Hazardous Areas classified?

Hazardous areas are divided into Groups and Categories and further subdivided into Zones, Groups, Protection Types, and Equipment Protection Levels (EPLs).

Sample Marking:

atex certification, atex area classification chart, atex category 3 equipment, atex marking

ATEX GROUPS AND CATEGORIES – GROUPS AND CATEGORIES ARE DEFINED IN THE ATEX DIRECTIVE 2014/34/EU, AS FOLLOWS:

  • Equipment-Group I comprises equipment intended for use in the underground parts of mines, and to those parts of surface installations of such mines, likely to become endangered by firedamp and/or combustible dust, compromising equipment Categories M1 and M2 as set out in the Annex I of the Directive.
    • Category M1 – Equipment in this category is required to remain functional for safety reasons when an explosive atmosphere is present and are characterized by integrated explosion protection measures functioning in such a way that:
      • in the event of failure of one integrated measure, at least a second means of protection provides for a sufficient level of safety; or,
      • in the event of two faults occurring independently of each other, a sufficient level of safety is ensured.
    • Category M2 – Equipment in this category is intended to be de-energized in the event of an explosive atmosphere being detected.
  • Equipment-Group II comprises equipment intended for use in other places likely to become endangered by explosive atmospheres, compromising equipment Categories 1, 2 and 3 as set out in Annex I of the Directive.
    • Category 1 – This category comprises equipment designed to be capable of remaining within their operational parameters, stated by the manufacturer, and ensuring a very high level of protection for their intended use in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by mixtures of air and gases, vapors, mists or air/dusts mixtures are highly likely to occur and are present continuously, for long periods of time or frequently.
    • Category 2 – This category comprises equipment designed to be capable of remaining within their operational parameters, stated by the manufacturer, and based on a high level of protection for their intended use, in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by mixtures of air and gases, vapors, mists or air/dust mixtures are likely to occur.
    • Category 3 – This category comprises equipment designed to be capable of keeping within its operational parameters, stated by the manufacturer, and based upon a normal level of protection for its intended use, considering areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by mixtures of air and gases, vapors, mists or air/dust mixtures are unlikely to occur and if they do occur, do so infrequently and for a short period of time only.

ATEX ZONES – ZONES ARE DEFINED IN THE ATEX WORKPLACE DIRECTIVE 1999/92/EC, AS FOLLOWS:

  • Gas, Vapor, or Mist
    • Zone 0 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of flammable substances in form of gas, vapor or mist is present continuously or for long periods or frequently.
    • Zone 1 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of flammable substances in form of gas, vapor or mist is likely to occur in normal operation occasionally.
    • Zone 2 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of flammable substances in form of gas, vapor or mist is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only.
  • Dust
    • Zone 20 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of combustible dust in air is present continuously, or for long periods or frequently.
    • Zone 21 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of combustible dust in air is likely to occur in normal operation occasionally.
    • Zone 22 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of combustible dust in air is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only.
  • Group I – Zone 0 or 1
    • Mines Susceptible to Firedamp
  • Group II – Zone 0, 1, and 2
    • IIC – Acetylene & Hydrogen
    • IIB + H2 – Hydrogen
    • IIB  Ethylene
    • IIA – Propane
  • Group III – Zone 20, 21, and 22
    • IIIC – Conductive Dust
    • IIIB – Non-Conductive Dust
    • IIIA – Combustible Flyings
  • Protection Types – Gas Atmospheres
    • “d” – flameproof enclosure (for EPL Gb or Mb)
    • “e” – increased safety (for EPL Gb or Mb)
    • “ia” – intrinsic safety (for EPL Ga or Ma)
    • “ib” – intrinsic safety (for EPL Gb or Mb)
    • “ic” – intrinsic safety (for EPL Gc)
    • “ma” – encapsulation (for EPL Ga or Ma)
    • “mb” – encapsulation (for EPL Gb or Mb)
    • “mc” – encapsulation (for EPL Gc)
    • “nA” – non-sparking (for EPL Gc)
    • “nC” – protected sparking (for EPL Gc)
    • “nR” – restricted breathing (for EPL Gc)
    • “o” – oil immersion (for EPL Gb)
    • “op is” – inherently safe optical radiation (for EPL Ga, Gb or Gc)
    • “op pr” – protected optical radiation (for EPL Gb or Gc)
    • “op sh” – optical system with interlock (for EPL Ga, Gb or Gc)
    • “pv” – pressurization (for EPL Gb or Gc)
    • “px” – pressurization (for EPL Gb or Mb)
    • “py” – pressurization (for EPL Gb)
    • “pz” – pressurization (for EPL Gc)
    • “q” – powder filling (for EPL Gb or Mb)
  • Protection Types – Dust Atmospheres
    • “ta” – protection by enclosure (for EPL Da)
    • “tb” – protection by enclosure (for EPL Db)
    • “tc” – protection by enclosure (for EPL Dc)
    • “ia” – intrinsic safety (for EPL Da)
    • “ib” – intrinsic safety (for EPL Db)
    • “ma” – encapsulation (for EPL Da)
    • “mb” – encapsulation (for EPL Db)
    • “mc” – encapsulation (for EPL Dc)
    • “p” – pressurization (for EPL Db or Dc)
  • Non-Electrical Protection Types
    • “d” – flameproof
    • “c” – constructional safety
    • “b” – control of ignition
    • “k” – liquid immersion
    • “p” – pressurization
  • Equipment Protection Level (EPL) – Level of protection assigned to equipment based on its likelihood of becoming a source of ignition and distinguishing the differences between explosive gas atmospheres, explosive dust atmospheres, and the explosive atmospheres in mines susceptible to fire damp.
    • EPL Ma – Equipment for installation in a mine susceptible to firedamp, having a very high level of protection, which has sufficient security that it is unlikely to become an ignition source in normal operation, during expected malfunctions or during rare malfunctions, even when left energized in the presence of an outbreak of gas.
    • EPL Mb – Equipment for installation in a mine susceptible to firedamp, having a high level of protection, which has sufficient security that it is unlikely to become a source of ignition in normal operation or during expected malfunctions in the time span between there being an outbreak of gas and the equipment being de-energized.
    • EPL Ga – Equipment for explosive gas atmospheres, having a very high level of protection, which is not a source of ignition in normal operation, during expected malfunctions or during rare malfunctions.
    • EPL Gb – Equipment for explosive gas atmospheres, having a high level of protection, which is not a source of ignition in normal operation or during expected malfunctions.
    • EPL Gc – Equipment for explosive gas atmospheres, having an enhanced level of protection, which is not a source of ignition in normal operation and which may have some additional protection to ensure that it remains inactive as an ignition source in the case of regular expected occurrences (for example failure of a lamp).
    • EPL Da – Equipment for explosive dust atmospheres, having a very high level of protection, which is not a source of ignition in normal operation, during expected malfunctions, or during rare malfunctions.
    • EPL Db – Equipment for explosive dust atmospheres, having a high level of protection, which is not a source of ignition in normal operation or during expected malfunctions.
    • EPL Dc – Equipment for explosive dust atmospheres, having an enhanced level of protection, which is not a source of ignition in normal operation and which may have some additional protection to ensure that it remains inactive as an ignition source in the case of regular expected occurrences (for example failure of a lamp).

I understand the above, but can you please explain the elements of an ATEX marking string?

See above for the sample marking and listen to the free on-demand recorded webinar.

How can I view my UL DEMKO ATEX certificates online?

For your convenience, UL has recently added ATEX Certificates to our online certification directory. This database enables fast, easy and reliable access for both you and your customers.

ATEX vs. IECEx

ATEX

  • Jurisdiction is the European Union (EU)
  • Compliance with the  Directive, EHSRs (Essential Health and Safety Requirements), and EN standards is required
  • Certification bodies are known as an ExNB (Ex Notified Body) qualified by the official body within their own country issuing a notification to the EU Commission
  • The certificate is called EC Type Examination Certificate
  • Assessment and testing process is risk-based per ATEX and EU Directives (e.g. Zone 2 can be self-declared due to lower risk)
  • Certificates are available from the respective ExNB

IECEx

  • Jurisdiction is the world, all countries
  • Certification scheme where full compliance with IEC Standards are required
  • ExCBs (Ex Certification Bodies) and ExTLs (Ex Testing Laboratories) are evaluated and qualified according to a single international process and assessed by a team of IECEx assessors
  • The certificate is called a CoC (Certificate of Conformity)
  • All product types require a certificate of conformity (CoC), regardless of zone of use of product
  • IECEx certificates are all available for viewing on www.iecex.com

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Additional Resources

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