“ATEX” is an abbreviation for the ATEX Directive and is also short for “Atmospheres Explosibles”. It is a set of European Union regulations that are designed to ensure the safety of products being used in explosive environments. Explosive atmospheres are work areas that contain flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. All it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion.
The regulations are based on the following directives:
ATEX covers all forms of equipment that could cause an accidental explosion through their own source of ignition. This excludes equipment, such as cookers and heaters, which are meant to provide ignition.
You can find a full catalogue of our ATEX-approved starter motors here. These use a pre-engaged cranking mechanism not the less effective soft-start system.
Different sites will have different levels of risk so ATEX is broken down into ‘zones’. The higher the risks the more stringent the regulations are. For example, there’s a difference between the regulations that apply to oil & gas installations and the regulations that apply to manufacturing or mining sites. Further details are on our ATEX Zone 0 and ATEX Zone 20 pages.
ATEX deems different categories of equipment to be safe for use in different zones. For example, only Category 1 equipment can be used in the most dangerous zones. Further details on equipment categories are on our ATEX Category 1 page.
Products must be certified before they can be labelled as ATEX-compliant. There are two routes to certification:
Only after products are certified can they be marked with the ATEX logo. More details can be found on our ATEX Certification page.
EU Directives become law if they are adopted by individual countries. In the UK, ATEX became law through two Acts:
There are numerous standards within ATEX covering all aspects of the interaction and assessment of products and people which can or may operate within an explosive atmosphere. The standards which are directly relevant to IPU Engine Starting are BS E 1834-1:2000, BS EN 1834-2:2000 BS EN 13463-1:2009.
IPU supplies engine starting equipment under Directive 94/9/EC, otherwise know as ATEX 95 and the ATEX Equipment Directive.
Since launching our first ATEX-approved starter it has become clear that the regulations are not always fully understood. We have come across numerous instances of inertia starters and aluminium casings being used in hazardous environments. This represents a realistic danger to operator health and safety.
Although the ATEX regulations were originally drafted for the EU, they are becoming accepted as a worldwide standard of approval. This is because it is easier for companies to simply specify ‘ATEX-approved’ as the minimum standard for equipment being used on platforms and in mines.
The bottom line is this: products with ATEX approval are deemed superior to products without it. The day will surely come when ATEX approval is mandatory around the globe.