What Are The Different ATEX Zones? | Understanding ATEX Zones
What Is An ATEX Zone?
An ATEX zone is typically an area in a workplace where there is the risk of an explosive atmosphere occurring. When there is a build-up of combustible dust or flammable gases in the air, the risk of ignition and explosions increases. This is a massive cause of concern for many industries where these hazardous gasses and dust are unavoidable, which is why ATEX equipment must be used for cleaning these areas.
ATEX is an acronym taken from the French phrase ‘Atmospheres Explosibles’. It is part of the EU directive ATEX 2014-34 EU that ensures manufacturing standards protect against dangerous, flammable, or combustible materials. When these substances are present, any form of spark could lead to a serious explosion. Standard electrical equipment, such as a light switch, has the potential to create a spark that may ignite in an explosive atmosphere.
Will ATEX Zones Change After Brexit?
Since Brexit, the ATEX 2014-34 directive has still been in place in the UK. After the UK formally left the EU, it began a transition period lasting from 1st of January 2021 until 31st December 2021 where all EU directives remain valid. No changes are expected as all laws created while the UK was in the EU are part of UK legislation. However, if there are any updates to the EU 2014-34 directive, the legislation will need to change to remain in line with the EU.
The legislation in the UK legal system that validates ATEX directives is the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR). The DSEAR is responsible for ensuring that employers reduce the risk of hazardous substances by defining dangerous areas. Management – or self-employed people classified as employers under the regulations – must identify explosive atmosphere hazards and implement measures that reduce the risk of an explosion or fire occurring. These steps must protect staff, the business’s assets, and the environment.
What Are The Different ATEX Zones?
There are multiple causes of explosive atmospheres. Combustible dust, flammable gases, vapours, or mists all create the risk of an explosion or fire when they mix with air. When these substances build up, even a small ignition source could cause a serious accident. Many workplaces conduct business-critical activities that create flammable and combustible substances, such as vehicle spraying companies that produce hazardous gases or vapours.
Organic dust has the potential to become combustible. Any workplace where there are large quantities of grain flour or wood will have to mitigate against the risks of explosive atmospheres. Whether the hazard is created by vapours or gases or dust, different ATEX zones define the workplace conditions. ATEX zones are split into three categories for combustible dust and a further three categories for flammable gases and vapours.
Zone Classifications For Gases & Vapours
- Zone 0 – Where flammable substances have a consistent or long-lasting presence.
- Zone 1 – When flammable gases or vapours are produced from standard workplace operations.
- Zone 2 – An area where an explosive atmosphere is unlikely to arise from normal operations and if flammable gases or vapours are created, they will only be present for a short period.
Zone Classification For Dust
- Zone 0 – Where combustible dust has a consistent or long-lasting presence.
- Zone 1 – When combustible dust is produced from standard workplace operations.
- Zone 2 – An area where an explosive atmosphere is unlikely to arise from normal operations and if combustible dust is created, it will only be present for a short period.
To ensure an ATEX zone is safe for employers, assets, and the environment, you must remove the flammable substances from the area. ATEX cleaning requires specialist ATEX equipment that guarantees a no-spark operation and allows the operator to clean hard-to-reach areas efficiently. If the cleaning equipment creates an ignition source, this could cause an explosion or fire. This is why all cleaning products used in ATEX zones in your workplace must be ATEX-certified.
ATEX cleaning is a specialist sector that requires specifically designed equipment. All products need to be manufactured to be 100% fully conductive to remove the risk of a spark occurring during operation. This also provides the operator with total peace of mind over their safety, so they can focus on the cleaning task at hand. At SpaceVac, our team has redesigned an exclusive patent-pending ATEX vacuum designed for enclosed industrial cleaning of ATEX zones.
SpaceVac ATEX Cleaning Products
The SpaceVac Pro High-Level Vacuum has been independently certified as compliant with the ATEX directive 2014-34, ISO 80079-36:2016, and ISO 80079-37. Developed specifically for cleaning ATEX zones in industrial environments, the system guarantees operator safety while ensuring they can clean more easily and effectively.
The 100% carbon pole kit guarantees a non-spark and anti-static operation. The cleaning poles are also 38mm in diameter to improve suction, ensuring the process is more efficient.
High-reach ATEX cleaning presents multiple challenges. Operators can interconnect the different heads and tools that are part of the cleaning system to reach any challenging areas within an ATEX zone. There are also various configurations available, which allow complete customisation of the ATEX equipment.
Multiple Heads & Tools
Alongside the cleaning poles, are a complete range of carbon fibre heads, anti-static brushes, and accessories. This ensures operators have flexibility when cleaning even hard-to-reach areas.
S.A.F.E.R (Safe And Fast Easy Release)
Every pole, head, and tool available is fitted with a dynamic safety locking mechanism. This ensures operator safety while cleaning as there is no risk of the different features detaching while in use.
SpaceVac ATEX Equipment
For more information on ATEX zone safety, get in touch with our team today. If you’re looking for safe-to-use ATEX vacuum cleaning systems, SpaceVac manufactures and designs innovative ATEX equipment. Find the right cleaning equipment for your workplace today, call our team on 01604 936537 to discuss more.