ATEX zone: Classification, Equipment and Challenges

  • Publicatie datum May 22, 2023
  • Auteur Joost van Hulst
  • Laatst aangepast October 6, 2023
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ATEX zones are areas where explosion hazards may occur due to the presence of flammable substances such as gases, vapors, mists or dusts.

It is vital to correctly identify these zones and use appropriate explosion protection equipment and systems to ensure the safety of workers and the environment. Also called ATEX zone determination.

In this article we will discuss, among other things, what ATEX zones are, why they are important and how they are classified.

What is an ATEX zone?

An ATEX (ATmosphere EXplosible) zone is an area where explosive atmospheres can occur in the form of gases, vapors, mists or dusts. These explosive atmospheres can be created by various manufacturing or industrial processes.

ATEX zones are classified according to the risk of explosion and are therefore divided into different zones depending on the probability and duration of the presence of explosive atmospheres.

Click here to learn more about what ATEX zones are.

Classification of ATEX zones

ATEX zones are classified into three categories: zone 0, zone 1 and zone 2 for gas and vapor environments, and zone 20, zone 21 and zone 22 for dust environments.

  • ATEX Zone 0 (gas/vapor): area where explosive gases or vapors are present in the air for long periods of time, or are continuously present.
  • ATEX zone 1 (gas/vapor): area where explosive gases or vapors may be present in the air during normal operation.
  • ATEX zone 2 (gas/vapor): area where explosive gases or vapors are infrequently present in the air, or may be present briefly during normal operation.
  • ATEX zone 20 (dust): area where explosive dust is present permanently or for long periods of time.
  • ATEX zone 21 (dust): area where explosive dust is frequently present during normal operation.
  • ATEX zone 22 (dust): area where explosive dust is not frequently present in air, or may be present briefly during normal operation.

Specification of classifications

In the table below we give the specifications of the ATEX zone classifications. Here we give an example of the equipment that may be present in the relevant ATEX zoning.

ATEX zoneFrequencyType of explosion hazardExample of equipment or applications
Zone 0More than 10% of operating time*Gas explosion hazardFill openings of storage tanks for gaseous combustibles
Zone 1Between 0.1% and 10% of operating timeGas explosion hazardGas bottle filling stations or filling equipment for gaseous combustibles
Zone 2Less than 0.1% of operating timeGas explosion hazardGases released while opening a storage tank or while filling the tank
Zone 20More than 10% of operating timeDust explosion hazardStorage and production areas for grain, flour, wood and other powdered combustibles
Zone 21Between 0.1% and 10% of operating timeDust explosion hazardConveyors, grinding mills or screening plants in grain processing plants
Zone 22Less than 0.1% of operating timeDust explosion hazardWorkplaces where powder substances may be released when using machinery or tools

*Operating time: the length of time (lifetime) that a production device is in operation within a company.

Explosion protection equipment and systems in ATEX zones

There are several types of equipment and systems used in ATEX zones to prevent explosions or minimize their impact. These include:

  • Personnel protection systems
  • Pressure systems
  • Flameproof Motors
  • Pressure vessels
  • Circuit breakers
  • Safety sensors
  • Light curtains

These equipment and systems must meet specific requirements to be suitable for use in an ATEX zone.

Requirements for ATEX zone equipment

ATEX zone equipment must be assessed and certified before it can be used in hazardous areas. Certification includes a risk assessment, a conformity assessment and a type approval process.

In addition, there are certain requirements that equipment in an ATEX zone must meet, including:

  • Protection against sparks and explosions
  • No electrical or thermal overloading
  • Proper grounding and connections
  • Use of suitable materials and finishes
  • Minimum surface temperatures
  • Clear and legible markings
  • Periodic inspections and maintenance

One of the biggest challenges in ATEX zones is ensuring the safety of employees and equipment while not compromising the productivity and efficiency of production processes. This requires a balance between safety and performance.

Effectively dealing with the evolving technologies and new materials used in manufacturing processes is another challenge in itself. It is important to ensure that new materials and technologies do not pose safety risks.

In the future, new technologies are being developed to make ATEX zones safer and more efficient. For example, IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and devices can be used to enable real-time monitoring and control of ATEX zones.

Another trend is the development of advanced materials and coatings that can help reduce the likelihood of sparks and explosions. This can improve safety in ATEX zones while increasing productivity. For example, consider installing an antistatic ESD floor.

ICM Projects for the safety of ATEX zones.

In various industrial sectors, ATEX zones are an important component to consider. After all, you want to prevent personnel and equipment from being at risk while working.

The ATEX zones guidelines set strict requirements to ensure safety. These include measures to limit explosion hazards, as well as clear markings to indicate ATEX zones.

One measure that can be taken to reduce explosion hazards is to install an ESD floor (antistatic floor). However, clear marking, including hazard signs, will also need to be installed to identify ATEX zones.

We at ICM Projects specialize in installing various types of industrial floors including ESD floors, and in the process can also help you apply floor lineation to mark areas.

Curious about the possibilities? Then be sure to contact us or make an appointment to stop by our showroom. No time to come by? No problem, by appointment we can also visit you to discuss the possibilities and wishes on location.


Joost van Hulst
Joost van HulstCEO

Purchasing a company floor does not happen overnight. A good floor is only the basis for high work performance if you and your colleagues function optimally in it. For that simple reason, CEO Joost van Hulst makes sure every project runs smoothly every day. We get to the bottom of things for our clients. From administrative offices to hospitals. Ready to perform? The floor is yours.

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