Since July 2003, Ex products that are sold on the European market must be declared by the manufacturer to meet the essential health and safety requirements contained within the directive 94/9/EC. Compliance with the essential health and safety requirements is usually achieved by compliance with a harmonised standard (e.g. the EN 60079 series).

In Europe equipment is divided into Categories, which are equivalent to Equipment Protection Levels. Category 1 covers equipment suitable for use in EPL Ga (Zone 0) or EPL Da (Zone 20) areas, Category 2 covers equipment suitable for EPL Gb or Db (Zone 1 or 21) areas, and Category 3 covers equipment suitable for EPL Gc or Dc (Zone 2 or 22) areas.

The objective of the ATEX directive is to ensure the free movement of goods throughout the EU by offering a streamlined compliance procedure that is accepted by the entire region, thus eradicating the need for differing national standards for individual member nations.

Depending on the Category of the equipment different requirements apply to the manufacturer.

Typically for Categories 1 and 2:

  • The manufacturer has their product tested by a Notified Body and obtains an EC Type Examination Certificate from the NB.
  • The manufacturer implements a quality management system and specific product compliance program for the product, and has this system audited by a Notified Body. The NB will then issue a Quality Assurance Notification or similar.
  • The manufacturer then draws up their EC Declaration of Conformity and places the product on the market.

Category 3, however, does not require the involvement of a Notified Body or any third party testing, though in some cases the manufacturer will choose to obtain a certificate from a Notified Body.

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