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ATEX Standards Explained

What is ATEX? What does it all mean?

ATEX is the name commonly given to the legal requirements for controlling explosive atmospheres and the suitability of equipment and protective systems used in them. There are two EU Directives ATEX 95 (94/9/EC) and ATEX 137 (1999/92/EC) concerning, respectively, the supply and the use of equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres. The term 'ATEX' is derived from the French title of the 94/9/EC Directive.


Here is a description of the ATEX code explained:


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DSAR information

As well as these clearly defined ATEX standards there are other associated standards such as DSEAR standards that requires employers to eliminate or control the risks from dangerous substances.   In addition to the general requirements, the Regulations place other specific duties on employers with workplaces where explosive atmospheres may occur which is beyond our scope for this web page. Check with HSE for all current documentation.

* DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. Dangerous substances can put peoples' safety at risk from fire, explosion and corrosion of metal.

Dangerous substances can put peoples' safety at risk from fire, explosion and corrosion of metal. DSEAR puts legal responsibilities on employers and the self-employed to protect people from risks to their safety in the workplace, and to members of the public who may well be put at risk by work activity.

What are dangerous substances?

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion or corrosion of metal. They can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from machining and sanding operations, dusts from foodstuffs, pressurised gases and substances corrosive to metal.

What are the requirements of DSEAR?

Employers must:

  • know what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the risks are
  • ensure that there are controlled measures in place to either remove those risks completely or, where this is not possible, control them
  • ensure that there are controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances
  • develop plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances
  • Educate employees to ensure they are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances
  • identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may well occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment) in those areas

Further information regarding DSEAR can be found on government sites in the UK.