The HSE has updated its guidance on hazardous area classification when specifying ATEX equipment and, while it is not compulsory to follow its suggestions, there are benefits in terms of legal compliance when doing so.

That is because HSE inspectors will generally look to the HSE guidance as the rubric for best practice on hazardous area classification.

As such, by following the guidance when purchasing and installing ATEX equipment, you can be assured that the equipment you choose will be deemed to be in compliance with the HSE’s standards and with the legal requirements for hazardous area equipment.

Hazardous area classification depends on the severity and duration of any explosive atmosphere, from Zone 0 where a continual threat is normally present, to Zone 1 where explosive vapours are intermittently likely, to Zone 2 where an explosive atmosphere is unlikely and short-lived.

The guidance adds that in the presence of certain chemicals – for example, toxic vapours that could pose a risk to human health even at concentrations below that needed for an explosion – further precautions must be taken to protect workers.

“Following the guidance is not compulsory, and you are free to take other action,” the HSE states. “But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law.”