ATEX, IECEx and Co
Harmonising the Global Legislation for Explosion Protection
Hazard Assessment – Past and Present
Up until 2002, explosion risks in Germany were assessed according to regulations specific to the installation or device. Examples of this are the regulations for inflammable liquids (VbF) or the regulations for electrical installations in explosion-risk areas (ElexV).
The adoption of the Atex operational guideline 1999/92/EG as national legislation in the form of the operational safety regulations (BetrSichV) reinforced on the one hand the personal responsibility of the employer by the possibility of a hazard-related approach, while on the other hand imposing the obligation of more consistent documentation of hazard assessment and of the protection concepts in the explosion protection documentation. All hazards which can arise from working equipment are assessed and eliminated by appropriate protection concepts. This hazard-related approach must be based on the latest relevant technology.
The “technical rules for operational safety“ (TRBS) or other relevant information sources such as EN or IEC norms provide information about the latest relevant technology in the installation and use of working equipment and thus simplify the determination of suitable measures for the protection of workers. The employer can also, however, achieve the protection aims of the regulations by following other paths involving equivalent safety technology.
Personal Responsibility – Explosion Protection Starts at Home
Explosion-protected working equipment must of course also be tested regularly. While the ElexV allows e.g. not only testing at fixed intervals but also “continuous monitoring of electrical installations“ without concretely testing, today the employer can determine himself the kind and extent of the tests and also the interval of time between two successive tests within three years. The tests are carried out by authorised persons as defined by the operational safety regulations (BetrSichV). They are named by the employer or by “approved monitoring bodies“ (ZÜS).