What is CompEx & ATEX?
If you work within the manufacturing industry, you might well be familiar with the terms ATEX and CompEx, but do you know how they relate to your business?
In this short article, we’re explaining exactly what the terms mean and why they should matter to you and your teams.
What is ATEX?
ATEX derives from the French term ‘Atmosphères Explosives’ (explosive atmospheres) and is the common term for two EU directives:
Directive 99/92/EC (also known as ATEX 137 or the ATEX Workplace Directive) is concerned with improving the health and safety protection of workers who are potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.
Directive 94/9/EC (also known as ATEX 95 or the ATEX Equipment Directive) is concerned with equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.
What is DSEAR?
In the UK, the requirements of the ATEX workplace directive were put into effect through the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). These regulations require employers to eliminate or control risks from dangerous substances.
Dangerous substances include any substances that put people’s safety at risk from fire, explosion and corrosion of metal. DSEAR puts the responsibility on employers to protect people from these risks.
- Identify dangerous substances in their workplace and assess the risk
- Put measures in place to remove those risks or control them
- Put controls in place to minimise the effects of incidents involving dangerous substances
- Outline procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances
- Ensure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from dangerous substances
- Identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources in those areas
What is classed as an ATEX area?
DSEAR defines hazardous areas as "any place in which an explosive atmosphere may occur in quantities such as to require special precautions to protect the safety of workers".
Many workplaces contain explosive atmospheres or have activities that produce explosive or potentially explosive atmospheres. These include workplaces where activities create or release flammable gases or vapours, such as vehicle paint spraying, or those that create dust (for example, sawmills, flour mills or concrete manufacturers).
Classification of zones is required to ensure that you operate within the guidelines and take the necessary precautions within each area. Correct classification will identify areas with a high chance of an explosive atmosphere occurring and those where it may only occur occasionally or in abnormal circumstances.
This helps facilitate the selection and installation of equipment used in that environment, taking into account the properties of any flammable materials present.
What is CompEx?
CompEx (meaning Competency working in Explosive atmospheres) refers to a recognised worldwide training and assessment scheme to ensure that those working in hazardous or explosive environments are fully trained and competent.
Working with a CompEx accredited partner ensures that you are doing everything possible to protect your staff and mitigate risk.
Businesses with hazardous areas may also benefit from lower insurance costs if they work with a CompEx accredited partner.
Protecting your business with AES
AES is one of a small number of electrical contracting businesses qualified to work in ATEX environments under CompEx accreditation.
Our CompEx accredited team are competent in selecting, installing, inspecting, and maintaining electrical apparatus in potentially explosive atmospheres, in line with BS EN 60079
Working with us is a best practice approach to preventing serious incidents. We provide a professional service with a full audit trail to ensure that the correct precautions are followed according to health and safety guidelines and regulations.
We can also help you fully assess your areas and ensure that the zones are classified correctly in line with DSEAR.
As standard procedure within our Hazardous Areas service, we regularly inspect and test all installations to ensure that they are not falling below the high-performance standards required within an ATEX environment.
If you’d like more information on ATEX directives or would like to discuss how our Hazardous Areas service could benefit you, please get in touch with our friendly team.