ATEX and IECEx
ATEX or IECEx certified products are required in any environment that may or does contain explosive, or potentially explosive conditions. Although most of us in the industry have heard of these certifications, there may be some confusion on what each certification is, and how they are different.
The name “ATEX” is derived from the French words “ATmosphère EXplosibles”. ATEX is a mandatory certification across Europe, and involves all stages of production from the beginning stages of construction to the actual installation and use of the equipment.
ATEX consists of 2 parts:
Directive 99/92/EC: This is the “ATEX Use Directive,” which focuses primarily on worker health and safety in explosive or potentially explosive environments. It includes selection, installation, inspection and maintenance of the certified explosion proof equipment.
Directive 2014/34/EU: The “ATEX Equipment Directive” focuses on the manufacture of the products, and the trade and sales of the explosion proof equipment.
IECEx, or “International Electrotechnical Commission Explosive,” is a voluntary certification used internationally for safe explosion proof equipment that can be traded across countries confidently. The IECEx standard reduces the need for re-testing and re-certification, since many countries operate under different standards.
The IECEx certification is based on the IEC 60079-0 standard, which has no government involvement. To be certified a product must go through a IECEx test house for both the product and the manufacturing facility, with surveillance of the procedure.
Countries currently participating in the IECEx Scheme include: most of Europe, Australia, Canada, China, Russia, South Africa and the US.
ATEX and IECEx have many similarities in terms of providing assurance that everything from the equipment and installation, through the manufacturing, operation and maintenance of the products, complies with explosion proof requirements.
The main difference between the two certifications is the geographical location where the certifications are recognized and accepted. ATEX is a mandatory certification in Europe, while IECEx is not mandatory and accepted amongst multiple countries. Additionally, an ATEX certificate can be based on an IECEx test report, but ATEX documentation may not support an IECEx certificate. Because of this it is now common for products to have both certifications.