What is ATEX equivalent in Australia?
The most correct answer is that there is no ATEX equivalent in Australia, which though correct, is probably not very helpful. The question that is really being asked is “What certifications for equipment for use in explosive atmospheres are accepted in Australia?” The answer to that is IECEx or ANZEx.
To explain why there is no ATEX equivalent in Australia we first have to understand what exactly ATEX is. ATEX stands for Atmosphéres Explosibles and refers to two separate, but related, European Union (EU) Directives.
- 2014/34/EU The “Equipment” Directive
- 1999/92/EC The “Use” Directive
The ATEX Equipment Directive is primarily concerned with the manufacture and sale, particularly on the international level, of Ex equipment. It applies minimum Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) to avoid concerns over safety being a barrier to trade within the European Economic Area (EEA). The ATEX Use Directive is primarily concerned about the safety of people undertaking work in hazardous atmosphere installations. It specifies minimum equipment requirements and requires all equipment with a potential ignition source (electrical and non-electrical) to comply with the Equipment Directive
The ATEX directives require equipment to meet the EHSRs, but the rules for how this is to be demonstrated are slightly complicated. Ensuring equipment conforms to a recognised technical standard (most commonly the EN 60079 series) is the most common (but not the only) way to demonstrate that the EHSR’s are met. In the case of equipment for use in Zone 0 and 1, or 20 and 21 areas, equipment must be independently tested by a Notified Body, who also verifies the equipment is manufactured under an appropriate Quality system. For Zone 2 or 22 equipment, testing may be performed by the manufacturer.
ATEX approved equipment is not generally accepted in Australia. AS/NZS 60079.14, the standard for electrical installations in hazardous areas, requires equipment to be IECEx and ANZEx certified, unless suitable certified equipment is not practically obtainable (and more work is done to demonstrate that the alternative equipment is safe). Both IECEx and ANZEx require all equipment to be independently tested by organisations which are approved to operate within the respective Certified Equipment Scheme and issue Certificates of Conformity, ensuring the equipment complies with the relevant set of standards. The robustness of the IECEx and ANZEx set of standards and certification process provides a high level of confidence in the safe operation of equipment and the safety of personnel in hazardous areas. Whilst there may be no acceptable ATEX equivalent in Australia, IECEx and ANZEx, in many ways, provide a better method for the certification of equipment for use in explosive atmospheres.