European Union (EU) Requirements - ATEX "New Approach" Directives

99/92/EC ATEX (Workplace) Directive on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.

The Directive covers both Group I and Group II activities, on shore and offshore within the EU, and aims to provide a better level of protection for the health and safety of workers in potentially explosive gas, vapour, mist and dust atmospheres. It lists a set of obligations and safety measures for employers, requiring the adoption of a coherent risk assessment based strategy for the prevention of explosions. These obligations include:

  • Generation of an explosion protection document, evaluating explosion risk, including: likelihood of the presence of the explosive atmosphere, the presence of ignition sources (including electrostatic discharge), identification of the substances and processes in use, definition of specific measures taken to safeguard the health and safety of workers.
  • Classification of areas into zones and marking points of entry with safety signs.
  • Appropriate training and supervision for workers.
  • Use of written instructions and permits to work.
  • Special requirements for work equipment:
    • Equipment in service before 30 June 2003 may continue to be used after this date if the explosion protection document indicates it can be safely used.
    • Equipment brought into service after 30 June 2003 must be CE marked as compliant with the 94/9/EC ATEX (Equipment) Directive.
  • Due consideration of explosion protection measures, encompassing issues such as:
    • Control of releases.
    • Use of protective measures appropriate to the greatest potential risk.
    • Selection of appropriate equipment by referencing the explosion protection document.
    • Ensuring equipment is correctly maintained and operated.
    • Minimising the risk of explosion and the effect of explosion in the workplace.
    • Provision of suitable warning and escape facilities.

99/92/EC is a separate directive specifically covering workers in explosive atmospheres, working within the more general 89/391/EEC Directive on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.