ATEX Directive

The ATEX Directive 94/9/EC controls all manufacture and import of equipment for use in explosive atmospheres, including non-electrical items.

ATEX requires that the equipment be safe, and bear a label indicating the conditions under which it is approved for use. All ATEX equipment must bear the CE marking. Import, sale or workplace use of equipment without ATEX approval is illegal.


ATEX covers equipment that satisfies three criteria:

  1. It must be purposely-designed for use within an explosive atmosphere at normal temperatures and pressures.

  2. The atmosphere may contain gas, vapour, mist or dust as a fuel, but must be based on air as the oxidiser.

  3. The equipment must have an ignition source in and of itself, such as a spark, hot surface, etc.

Because of these criteria, simple items such as hammers are not covered as they do not generate sparks in and of themselves (only when struck against another item), and some mechanical devices such as hand-operated valves are excluded under statements issued by the EEC, as they are not considered to move fast enough to generate any frictional heat sufficient to cause ignition.

The IECEx scheme is controlled by the International Electrotechnical Commission, and covers electrical equipment for use in explosive atmospheres. IECEx uses different codes and approvals systems, but also requires detailed information on the product label. IECEx does not currently apply to non-electrical equipment.

Many modern devices will carry both ATEX and IECEx approval, and so the label will display codes and information from both schemes. Some of that information is common, some is not. A typical ATEX and IECEx label is shown below.


ATEX Guide.pdf (898.7 KB)