How do I know if my equipment is suitable for use in a hazardous area?

Manufacturers, suppliers and others supplying equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres have a duty under the EPS Regulations to mark the equipment, showing which group and category it is suitable for. These markings are in addition to the CE and Ex marks required. Users have a duty to classify their workplaces and utilise equipment suitable for that area.

Where can I find information about notified bodies?

A list of notified bodies accredited under ATEX can be found on the European Commission's NANDO (New Approach Notified and Designated Organisations) Information System - 94/9/EC Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.

When a dutyholder purchases motors, pumps, compressors, valves, pipework, etc and installs them to make a functioning system; is this 'placing it on the market' or 'putting them into service?' Are they therefore required to comply with the EPS Regulations?

Assembling separate products – each with their own conformity assessments – at the user's premises is not considered to be 'manufacturing,' provided that the manufacturer's instructions for each product are complied with, and that a 'new' product is not created by that assembly. The result of this construction work is an 'installation' and is outside the scope of the EPS Regulations.

Where separate products are chosen and assembled from a modular range of parts according to manufacturers' instructions to form a working whole, it is normally the manufacturer of the assembly who retains responsibility for the conformity assessment. The manufacturer is required to have had the modular range conformity assessed, prior to placing it on the EU market.

Interconnecting pipework between process skids, process vessels, etc can operate at elevated temperatures, due to the temperature of the process medium. Does such pipework need to be CE marked?

See the above question. Such pipework is considered a part of the 'installation'. It therefore does not have to be CE marked. Although outside the requirements for conformity assessment under the EPS Regulations, the provisions of the following remain applicable to such pipework:

  • the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act)
  • the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
  • (if relevant) the Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) Regulations 1995 (PFEER)

However, if an EPS Regulation compliant, conformity-assessed product – supplied by a manufacturer to a user as a complete entity – contains any interconnecting parts, pipes, etc then these are considered to form part of the product and must be included in the conformity assessment.

It is proposed to design and manufacture an in-house control panel which will comprise instrumentation, mechanical pressure gauges etc and be located in a potentially explosive atmosphere. Will the control panel require conformity assessment under the EPS Regulations?

The control panel is regarded as an 'assembly' and therefore must be conformity assessed in line with the EPS Regulations' requirements, even though it has been manufactured in-house. This is because the EPS Regulations apply to the person who puts such equipment into service.

If each item of the control panel has been through the appropriate conformity assessment procedures - and the manufacturer's instructions have been adhered to - then further conformity assessment would be limited to any additional risks which have become relevant due to combining the products together.

Will a product that is both electrical and mechanical be required to show both certification compliances separately, or will it be a combined assessment?

The CE mark indicates that a product complies fully with the EPS Regulations and any other EU product supply regulations that are applicable. The CE marking covers both the electrical and mechanical aspects of a product. Notified bodies have already issued certificates covering the electrical and mechanical aspects of the equipment.

Will the EPS Regulations affect the procedure whereby certain equipment was accepted as being suitable for use in hazardous areas by being constructed in accordance with industry good practice (eg pressurised portable cabins containing electrical equipment)?

Any product which meets the EPS Regulations' definitions of 'equipment', 'protective system', 'device' or 'component' will need to be conformity assessed after 1 July 2003. Pressurised cabins will be required to be conformity assessed if placed on the market as a product by a manufacturer, or if manufactured for own use by an operator or contractor.

However, if a pressurised cabin was constructed in-situ at the end user's premises by combining several conformity-assessed products in accordance with the product manufacturer's instructions, it would be regarded as an 'installation' and would not require conformity assessment. Any additional ignition risks should be considered under other legislation, eg DSEAR etc.

I am importing a milling machine and realise that the dust generated from some of the products to be machined by my customer may be explosible. Does the machine have to be ATEX certified?

For equipment to be subject to ATEX, it has to be intended for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere AND have its own potential source of ignition. If the machine in this example - while containing an explosible dust - is not intended to be operated in a potentially explosive atmosphere, it does not need to be ATEX certified.

However, any explosion risks from the processing of materials have to be assessed and controlled by the machine's manufacturer to meet the essential health and safety requirements (EHSRs) of the Machinery Directive (MD) 98/37/EC (eg on static electricity, fire and explosion, emissions of dust, gases etc). Any equipment or protective systems - installed as part of the machine in order to meet these requirements - must, in turn, meet the requirements of the ATEX Directive 94/9/EC. For example, if motors, switches etc could possibly be exposed to an explosive atmosphere of the dust generated, they would have to be ATEX certified.
Before installing and using the machine, the user will have to do a risk assessment under regulation 5 of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. This should consider, among other things, the likelihood of explosive concentrations of dust being generated, both in normal use and under fault conditions. The assessment should identify any additional precautions that the user will need to implement to prevent the formation of explosive concentrations of dust, and to mitigate the effects of any explosion to a safe level. For example, the nature of the intended work - such as the size of the pieces being machined and the quantities and properties of the dust produced (including its explosivity) - will determine the specification for the local exhaust ventilation required, and the dust filtration units forming part of this.

Where such dust filtration units, due to the nature and quantity of explosible dust, require protective systems, they have to meet the requirements of the ATEX Directive. For example, explosion relief panels are protective systems and therefore come within the scope of ATEX Guidance is available from the European Commission on the application of ATEX to filtration units.

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Updated 2023-01-09