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Introduction to Potentially Explosive Atmospheres

Many manufacturing and processing industries can generate potentially explosive atmospheres by use of various substances.

These substances can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, gases & dusts.
When not properly controlled, they can all cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion. In many regions there are no mandatory obligations to use certified equipment (or indeed to classify an area as potentially explosive) however in the event of an accident, the companies in these regions may still be liable to prosecution.

In Europe for example an employer has a legal obligation for the protection of workers in potentially explosive atmospheres under ATEX. As part of this companies must assess for a fire or explosion risk and classify the area accordingly.

Once an area is classified, a risk analysis will normally dictate that only electrical and mechanical equipment with a suitable protection level & suitable certification can be installed.

As products without a suitable protection level or appropriate certification are not legally allowed to be placed or offered on the European market, many manufacturers and workplaces have been forced to deal with issues with which they are unfamiliar, some organisations still operating oblivious to this and are in essence operating illegally

This raises the issue of competency requirements of the personnel who are overall responsible for the areas as well as for those designing, installing, Inspecting and maintaining the equipment. ATEC Clients