Harmonization of Explosion Protection

Internationally, the standpoints on the explosion protection of electrical and non-electrical equipment are coordinated by specialized IEC and ISO working groups.In the area of electrical engineering, internationally harmonized design agreements were formulated in IEC standards at a very early stage. For the most part, this was done in conformance with the CENELEC standards. A visible sign of the harmonization is that the relevant IEC/ISO (global), EN (Europe) documents on standards agree in content and in the registration number (60079 series). Harmonization is being worked on intensively at present. This reorganization involves continuous amendments but will also make future international work easier. ISO/IEC working groups work in an identical way and use (80079 series) for application to non-electrical equipment.

Under the IECEx System, Ex equipment is developed, tested, and certified with a Certificate of Conformity (IECEx CoC) in accordance with the internationally uniform requirements (IEC/ISO standards) and is in the meantime applicable to Ex equipment assemblies consisting of electrical and non-electrical equipment too.

However, certificates are still accepted on the basis of regional (for example in Europe with the manufacturer’s EU Declarations of Conformity) and local (for example Brazilian INMETRO certificates, USA UL/FM certificates, etc.) statutory and insurance law regulations. It is often necessary to introduce amendments, for example, new certification, to conform to national requirements. In international projects, it is therefore important to engage with the users to clarify the details of the specifications with respect to the explosion protection requirements.

With ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU, the European community has provided itself with binding uniform agreed on requirements relating to the explosion protection of systems, equipment, and components, and these are supported by harmonized EN standards from the CENELEC and CEN standardization committees.

With the help of these standards, the manufacturer is able to assume during the design and
assessment of the explosion protection that he is developing safe, protective systems, equipment, and components in compliance with ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU, which will then be tested in conformance to uniform and binding inspection processes by an EU-authorized Notified Body. If the test criteria have been met successfully, the Notified Body issues the EU-Type Examination Certificates which ensure fulfillment in Europe of the uniform criteria
with respect to the required Essential Health & Safety Requirements (EHSR’s) for Equipment with a very high or high safety level. These EU-Type Examination Certificates are a prerequisite for the production and the placing on the market of protective systems, equipment and components with very high and high safety levels, indicated by Category 1 and 2.

For Category 3, with just an enhanced safety level, a different approach is acceptable. The manufacturer may declare on his own responsibility that the Ex Equipment or Ex Component complies, without the involvement of a Notified Body. In the meantime, more manufacturers are asking the Notified Bodies (on a voluntary basis) to examine the intended prototypes and issue Type Examination Certificates.

Uniform classification of hazardous areas (installations) provides a basis for selecting and assigning protective systems and Ex Equipment including their installation. Under EU Directive 1999/92/EC, an Explosion Protection Document is a precondition for setting up and operating a potentially explosive facility. Only such a document makes it possible to select protective systems and equipment with respect to explosion protection and to install, operate, maintain and eventually repair them in compliance with standards. The corresponding technical rules and regulations are drawn up and adopted on a national level.

Directive 2014/34/EU accordingly formulates EU-wide uniform construction requirements for equipment used in hazardous areas while Directive 1999/92/EC contains the minimum requirements for Occupational Health and Safety, which can be increased nationally. Using the two above directives creates a closed system that makes it possible to prevent explosions reliably in order to protect people, the environment, and property effectively.


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