ATEX and IECEx Certification

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5 December, 2018

IECEx Vs. ATEX Certificates

When looking to comply with the International Electro-technical Commission standards, IECEx is one such system which you can use voluntarily. Many countries operate using different standards which leads to retesting of Ex equipment, but if they comply on an international level, it reduces the need for retesting. IECEx certification is of international standards making it a cost-effective and straightforward way to comply with IEC standards.

ATEX, on the other hand, is a European Union directive which seeks to protect against explosive atmospheres. It is a certification that covers protective systems and equipment which are intended for use in a potentially explosive environment. When products are deemed to have explosive potential, the European Union requires that they have an ATEX certification like thee evo range of automatic lifting hooks with ATEX configuration (evo5, evo10 & evo20) that provides the needed security.

ATEX/IECEx are both bodies that have set standards for companies dealing in Ex equipment. They seek to provide a safe working environment for workers and ensure the equipment produced is safe for use.

What is ATEX?

ATEX stands for Atmosphere Explosives. It refers to two related but separate European directives on potentially explosive products.

Directive 99/92/EC – The ATEX Use Directive focuses primarily on the health and safety of workers, working in potentially explosive atmospheres. It involves the correct selection, installation, inspection and maintenance of Ex equipment.

Directive 2014/34/EU – The ATEX Equipment Directive primarily concerned with trade, considers the equipment that will be used in potentially hazardous areas and involves the manufacture and sale of Ex equipment.

The ATEX equipment directive is mainly concerned about trade and applies minimum essential health and safety requirements. It does so to avoid a safety as being a barrier to trade. Primarily the ATEX directive is for the protection of workers who work in a hazardous environment. It sets the minimum requirement an organization should meet, but a country can modify or add to them. Whether equipment is electrical or non-electrical, it should comply with the ATEX standards as long as it has a potential ignition source.

An ATEX certification does not imply that a company conforms to any particular standard. Some standards are set as harmonized which suggests that adhering to one or more harmonized standards is a demonstration of conformity to the Essential Health and Safety Requirements. There are categories in ATEX certification which depend on how great equipment gets protected against becoming an active ignition source. The European Union has mandated CEN and CENELEC to write standards in support of the Essential Health and Safety Requirements. These standards get reviewed by an ATEX consultant under the European Union confirming that the equipment conforms to them. When the consultant finds it to comply, he harmonizes them, and their number gets published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

What is IECEx?

IECEx stands for International Electro-technical Commission Explosive. It is a system which a company uses voluntarily to show that they comply with internationally set standards of the IEC. It is a certification that minimizes the need for retesting explosive equipment on a regular basis. When a company is IECEx certified, international trade is easier since this certification is accepted worldwide. Certification bodies that are recognized include Sira Certification and CSA group. They assess a product to ensure it meets the relevant standards which will result in the compilation of an IECEx test report and an IECEx certificate of conformity. IECEx certifies that the people who are working in Ex areas have the required skills, competence and knowledge to operate there.

The IECEx system has the support of three Conformity Assessment Schemes which have increased confidence in companies that manufacture Ex products. These are:

  • Repair/Overhaul– Assesses and certifies that organizations meet the IEC standards by repairing, inspecting, designing, reclamation and installation of Ex equipment.
  • Ex Equipment– Gives an assurance that international safety standards have been met per the IEC hence the IECEx certification.
  • Personnel– There is also the IECEx Certification of Personnel Competence that shows all the people working, dealing or engaging in Ex equipment have the required skills and experience to do so.

The use of IECEx guidelines and conforming to its set standards gives governments and industries an advantage and an edge over their competitors who are not in compliance.

Differences between ATEX and IECEx Certification

ATEX and IECEx certification applies to the companies that produce explosive or potentially explosive atmospheres. The main difference between them is that ATEX is a requirement in the European Union while IECEx is recognized and accepted across multiple countries internationally.

Another difference is that IECEx is for electrical equipment, while ATEX is a legal requirement for both electrical and non-electrical equipment in hazardous environments.

Also, ATEX is a law and those in the European Union have to adhere to it whereas IECEx shows compliance to international standards but is not mandatory.

IECEx has a third party who is certified to ensure that an organization complies, but a manufacturer is responsible for the collection of modules for production control and examination when it comes to ATEX certification.

NEC – The North American Certificate –

NEC is the certification a company needs to access the North American market. It ensures that products exported to the U.S. & Canada have the required third party approval enabling you to get the product in the Canadian and United States markets. It shows that the product meets the electrical safety requirements that are recognized by the U.S and Canadian authorities. ATEX/IECEx certification in this scenario is an added plus to any company.

The general main difference between NEC, ATEX, and IECEx certification is their geographical applicability. ATEX applies to the European Union; NEC is for the U.S. and Canada while IECEx is acceptable in numerous countries across the globe.