ATEX equipment is governed by the EU ATEX directive – the acronym itself comes from the French ‘Appareils destines a etre utilises en atmospheres explosibles’, or at least from the start of the last two words.
There are actually two directives that govern ATEX equipment – the new ATEX directive 2014/34/EU for manufacturers, and the ATEX 137 workplace directive 99/92/EC for end-users.
Importantly, both of these are EU directives – and 2014/34/EU only came into force in April 2016 – meaning that if the UK were to vote in favour of leaving the EU, this legislation would not necessarily still apply to manufacturers and end-users in Britain.
This is just one of several pieces of legislation that would not automatically copy over into UK law just because of a successful Leave vote – and the TUC’s workSMART campaign recently highlighted this potential risk to employee safety in the UK.
Frances O’Grady from the TUC said: “Working people have a huge stake in the referendum because workers’ rights are on the line.”
However, even in the event of a Leave vote, there would be a minimum two-year negotiation period before the UK could exit the EU completely.
And in practice, it is likely that most prevailing EU legislation will be deemed to remain in effect at least for the short term – meaning the new rules on ATEX equipment introduced in April are still likely to apply in the UK in July, and for months if not years beyond that too.