ATEX and explosive atmospheres
Explosive atmospheres in the workplace can be caused by flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. Explosions can cause loss of life and serious injuries as well as significant damage. These pages will tell you more about explosive atmospheresand ATEX: Background What is an explosive atmosphere? Where can explosive atmospheres be found? What is ATEX? Explosive atmospheres in the workplace Equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmospheres Where can I find further information?
  
DTI information on equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmopsheres Publications
ATEX and DSEARFrequently asked questions
Explosive atmospheres can be caused by flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. If there is enough of the substance, mixed with air, then all it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion. Explosions can cause loss of life and serious injuries as well as significant damage. Preventing releases of dangerous substances, which cancreate explosive atmospheres, and preventing sources of ignition are two widely used ways of reducing the risk. Using the correct equipment can help greatly in this. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) place duties on employers to eliminate or control the risks from explosive atmospheres in the workplace. A summary of those requirements can be found below.This page does not deal with intentional explosives such as those used in demolition work or blasting in quarries. HSE Explosives website back to top
What is an explosive atmosphere?
In DSEAR, an explosive atmosphere is defined as a mixture of dangerous substances with air, under atmospheric conditions, in the form of gases, vapours, mist or dust in which, after ignition has occurred,combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture. Atmospheric conditions are commonly referred to as ambient temperatures and pressures. That is to say temperatures of –20°C to 40°C and pressures of 0.8 to 1.1 bar.
Where can explosive atmospheres be found?
Many workplaces may contain, or have activities that produce, explosive or potentially explosive atmospheres. Examples include places where workactivities create or release flammable gases or vapours, such as vehicle paint spraying, or in workplaces handling fine organic dusts such as grain flour or wood.
What is ATEX?
ATEX is the name commonly given to the framework for controlling explosive atmospheres and the standards of equipment and protective systems used in them. It is based on the requirements of two European Directives. Itis based on the requirements of two European Directives. 1) Directive 99/92/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 137’ or the 'ATEX Workplace Directive’) on minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres. The text of the Directive and the supporting EU produced guidelines are available on the EU-website. For more information on howthe requirements of the Directive have been put into effect in Great Britain see the information in the section on Equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmospheres. 2) Directive 94/9/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 95’ or ‘the ATEX Equipment Directive’) on the approximation of the laws of Members States concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentiallyexplosive atmospheres. The text of the Directive and EU produced supporting guidelines are available on the EU website. For more information on how the requirements of the Directive have been put into effect in Great Britain see the section on Selection of equipment and protective systems. ATEX Equipment Directive back to top
Explosive atmospheres in the workplace
In Great Britain the...