What is ATEX? The European directive for explosive environments

  • Publicatie datum May 22, 2023
  • Auteur Joost van Hulst
  • Laatst aangepast May 22, 2023
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Working in an explosive environment poses risks. A small spark or static electricity can lead to an explosion or fire. It is therefore vital that companies and organizations working in these environments take proper safety precautions.

In Europe, there is a specific directive called ATEX that helps companies manage these risks. In this article we discuss the basic principles of ATEX and the most important technical aspects.

What is ATEX?

ATEX stands for ATmosphères EXplosibles. It is a European directive in force since July 1, 2003 and applies to all devices and protection systems intended for use in potentially explosive environments.

The directive applies to all industries in which potentially explosive atmospheres may occur, such as the chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, food and beverage industries, as well as manufacturers of electrical equipment. Also called industries with ATEX zoning.

The importance of ATEX

The importance of ATEX lies in protecting workers against the risk of explosion in potentially explosive environments. The ATEX guidelines have been drawn up to minimize the risks of explosions and to ensure that employees can work safely in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Explosions in these environments can have serious consequences, including bodily injury, property damage and even death. By applying the ATEX guidelines, the risks of explosions are minimized by prescribing specific requirements and measures that companies must take in potentially explosive environments.

Implementing the ATEX directives and ATEX zone classification can also provide financial benefits for companies, as minimizing the risks of explosions can help to increase productivity and efficiency. This while reducing the costs for accidents and material damage.

Classification of hazardous areas

Hazardous areas are classified according to the presence and level of flammable substances in the atmosphere.

The classification is based on the frequency and duration of the presence of explosive substances and the amount of air in the room. We can distinguish between six different classifications, namely zone 0 to 2 and zone 20 to 22.

Zones 0 to 2 relate to gas explosive atmospheres and zones 20 to 22 to dust explosive atmospheres. There are specific requirements for all zones that they must meet.

What is an ATEX zone?

An ATEX zone is an environment in which there is a risk of explosion. This potentially explosive environment can be created by gas, vapours, mist or dust that is released during certain work processes.

The ATEX directive requires employers to classify potentially explosive atmospheres into zones. They must then use appropriate equipment that meets the requirements for the zone in question.

Devices designed for use in Zone 0 or 20 must meet the most stringent requirements, while devices designed for use in Zone 2 or 22 must meet less stringent requirements.

Have the ATEX zone set up by ICM Projects

ATEX zones within your company or organization must meet strict requirements set by the ATEX guidelines. Various measures will therefore have to be taken to guarantee the safety of personnel and equipment.

A number of these measures may relate to the installation of a suitable floor and the application of markings to indicate the ATEX zones.

You can think of installing an ESD (antistatic) floor to prevent electrostatic discharges, which reduces the risk of explosion. The ATEX zone will also have to be clearly indicated by marking and placing hazard signs.

ICM Projects can help your company or organization install an ESD floor and apply the markings immediately. This allows you to kill two birds with one stone, so that business activities do not have to be stopped for an unnecessarily long time.

At ICM Projects we can meet all the wishes of the customer. Request a quote without obligation or make an appointment to visit our showroom. Based on the specific needs of your company, we look for a suitable solution for a company floor.


Joost van Hulst
Joost van Hulst

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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