ATEX Directive: What is ATEX?

“ATEX” is an abbreviation for the ATEX Directive and is also short for “Atmospheres Explosibles”. While the ATEX regulations were originally drafted for the European Union, they are quickly becoming accepted as a worldwide standard. ATEX are a set of rules designed to ensure the safety of products being used in explosive environments. Explosive atmospheres are work areas that contain flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. All it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion.

atex directive logo

The ATEX Directive logo is used in many forms but the black and white logo on the left is the official version

The regulations are based on the following directives:

  1. Directive 94/9/EC (‘ATEX 95’ or ‘the ATEX Equipment Directive’) refers to the equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmospheres.
  2. Directive 99/92/EC (‘ATEX 137‘ or the ‘ATEX Workplace Directive’) refers to minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers at risk from explosive atmospheres.

ATEX covers all forms of equipment that could cause an accidental explosion through their own source of ignition. This excludes equipment, such as cookers and heaters, which are meant to provide ignition.


ATEX-Approved Starter Motors and Packages

You can find a full catalogue of our ATEX-approved starter motors here. These use a pre-engaged cranking mechanism not the less effective soft-start system.


ATEX Zones

Different sites will have different levels of risk so ATEX is broken down into ‘zones’. The higher the risks the more stringent the regulations are. For example, there’s a difference between the regulations that apply to oil & gas installations and the regulations that apply to manufacturing or mining sites. Further details are on our ATEX Zone 0 and ATEX Zone 20 pages.


ATEX Categories

ATEX deems different categories of equipment to be safe for use in different zones. For example, only Category 1 equipment can be used in the most dangerous zones. Further details on equipment categories are on our ATEX Category 1 page.


ATEX Certification

Products must be certified before they can be labelled as ATEX-compliant. There are two routes to certification:

  • Less hazardous ATEX zones can self-certify products. The manufacturer can stipulate that the product conforms to the necessary standards.
  • Highly dangerous ATEX zones must have their products inspected and approved by an outside organisation known as a Notified Body. The EU list of authorised Notified Bodies can be found on the EU website.

Only after products are certified can they be marked with the ATEX logo. More details can be found on our ATEX Certification page.


The ATEX Directive in UK law

EU Directives become law if they are adopted by individual countries. In the UK, ATEX became law through two Acts:

  • ATEX 137 was implemented under The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) by The Health and Safety Executive.
  • ATEX 95 was implemented by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) under The Equipment and Protective Systems for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996 (EPS Regulations).


The ATEX Directive’s relationship to other standards

There are numerous standards within ATEX covering all aspects of the interaction and assessment of products and people which can or may operate within an explosive atmosphere. The standards which are directly relevant to IPU Engine Starting are BS E 1834-1:2000, BS EN 1834-2:2000 BS EN 13463-1:2009.

  • BS EN 1834-1:2000 governs the safe use of reciprocating internal combustion engines. It defines the safety requirements for the design and construction of engines used in potentially explosive atmospheres and Group II engines used in flammable gas and vapour atmospheres.
  • BS EN 1834-2:2000 covers the same classes of engine for mining operations.
  • BS EN 13463-1:2009 specifies the basic methods and requirements for the design, construction, testing and marking of non-electrical equipment in explosive or flammable atmospheres.


The ATEX Directive’s impact on IPU products

IPU supplies engine starting equipment under Directive 94/9/EC, otherwise know as ATEX 95 and the ATEX Equipment Directive.

Since launching our first ATEX-approved starter it has become clear that the regulations are not always fully understood. We have come across numerous instances of inertia starters and aluminium casings being used in hazardous environments. This represents a realistic danger to operator health and safety.


ATEX around the world

As mentioned earlier ATEX regulations are quickly becoming accepted as a worldwide standard of approval. From the Americas to the Far East, companies find it easy to specify ‘ATEX-approved’ as the minimum standard for equipment being used on platforms and in mines.

The bottom line is this: products with ATEX approval are deemed superior to products without it. The day will surely come when ATEX approval is mandatory around the globe.


Further reading

Further information on the ATEX Directive can be found at the European Commission’s website or the UK Health & Safety Executive’s website.

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