ATEX equipment falls into two main groups – Group I is mainly for underground mining and adjacent hazardous areas on the surface, while Group II encompasses all explosive atmospheres elsewhere.
There are five subdivisions in all: Group I Category M1 is for ATEX equipment that must remain operational throughout incidents, while Category M2 is for ATEX equipment to be powered down in the event of an explosive atmosphere.
Group II Category 1 is essentially Zone 0 equipment, where a continual risk of an explosive atmosphere is present.
Category 2 is for Zone 1 equipment where the risk is intermittent but likely; and Category 3 is for Zone 2 equipment where any explosive atmosphere is unlikely or should be short-lived.
As of the start of 2017, ATEX equipment manufacturers were reminded of their responsibilities in a list of guidance from the UK government under the general heading of Business and Enterprise: Manufacturing.
This confirms the two main aims of ATEX equipment: to prevent the formation of explosive atmospheres, and to prevent their ignition by electrical or non-electrical sources.
“It is your responsibility to ensure equipment and protective systems are designed and manufactured after due analysis of possible operating faults to prevent dangerous situations,” manufacturers were reminded, highlighting the continued commitment to maximum safety standards in ATEX equipment for hazardous areas.