ATEX is the formal name given to the two European Directives for controlling explosive atmospheres. We take an in-depth look at ATEX Approval and its requirements for equipment in hazardous areas.
An explosive atmosphere can be caused by a variety of substances and chemicals in the air, such as flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dust. If enough of a flammable substance is mixed in the air, then an ignition source (even a simple spark), can easily cause an explosion.
A wide variety of workplace environments are likely to contain explosive atmospheres, with some more hazardous than others. Examples of high risk areas include gas and petrochemical plants, paint and chemical manufacturers and users, petrol stations and workplaces handling fine organic dusts such as grain flour or wood.
Such high risk working environments will, of course, be protected by highly detailed risk assessments, safety rules and regulations, including what types of fixtures, electrical equipment and devices can be used on site. In such volatile environments, ensuring any equipment brought onto site is intrinsically safe (also known as ATEX approved) would be expected to be mandatory.
'Intrinsically Safe' is the name given to equipment designed for use in hazardous environments / explosive atmospheres. Due to the high levels of combustible substances in these areas, it is essential that any equipment used is guaranteed not to cause a spark or reach a high temperature (which could easily ignite the explosive atmosphere causing an explosion).
If any equipment or devices (particularly electrical / electronic) are not intrinsically safe, they should be assumed to be capable of causing a spark and must not be brought onto site in explosive atmosphere environments. A product / device cannot simply 'self certify' as intrinsically-safe and must feature the ATEX / Ex approval to confirm official certification.
ATEX is the European certification given to equipment tested and approved to be intrinsically-safe.
There are two European Directives in place for the control of explosive atmospheres:
If a product / piece of equipment has official ATEX certification, it has been fully tested and approved to be safe to use in hazardous / explosive atmospheres. ATEX approved equipment must show the official 'Ex' logo shown here.
Remember, if an electrical / electronic device does not have ATEX approval and does not feature the Ex logo shown, it must not be used or brought onto site in explosive atmosphere areas.
Volt Stick was the first manufacturer to provide ATEX-approved and IECEx-approved, intrinsically-safe non-contact instant voltage testers.
Our Volt Stick LV50, Volt Stick EX230 and Volt Stick LV12 models are fully certified for safe use in explosive atmospheres.
Therefore, for any testing for live voltage in these environments (such as electrical testing or health & safety testing) must use the official Volt Stick Ex range of products.
Our fully tested and ATEX certified Volt Stick Ex product range are already specified as a mandatory testing tool for on-site engineers by many of the UK's leading utilities providers, petro-chemical companies and construction companies.