Summary: Introduction of ATEX Directives 95 and 137 in July 2003 increased pressure on all industries dealing with potentially explosive atmospheres, including the waste industry. Both the equipment and the operating procedures had to be reviewed in order to comply with the directives. ATEX is the acronym of French words ATmosphere Explosives. In the UK, although the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) were published well before implementation of the directives, the level of its understanding in the waste industry appeared to be low. Biogas Technology Limited being responsible manufacturer of equipment and provider of services has significantly contributed to implementation of ATEX directives and DSEAR into the landfill gas industry by being first to introduce and present the issue to relevant regulatory aid professional bodies, reviewing its own designs and procedures and informing its customers of possible implications of the directives.
1. Directives, Regulations and Guidance
ATEX 95 Directive puts a duty onto the manufacturer or supplier of products used in potentially explosive atmospheres to classify the equipment by relevant categories in respect of its health and safety requirements for design and construction to ensure free movement of goods within the EU. It requires compliance with the conformity procedures and marking the equipment with a CE mark. The manufacturer or supplier must work out and keep an evidence of compliance in accordance with the relevant groups and categories of equipment. Equipment other than for mining applications would belong to group II (marked in Roman numbers). Then, depending on the hazardous area characteristics (Zone 0, 1 or 2 for gas or Zone 20, 21 or 22 for dust) for which the equipment is intended to use, relevant category 1, 2 or 3 is assigned. Ways of obtaining the evidence of compliance are described in corresponding Annexes to directive. The level of evidence, depending on the equipment group and category, may vary from an EC Type-Examination Certificate derived by an independent notified body as the most stringent one to Manufacturer's Statement and Certificate of Conformity at the lower end, with intermediate levels of documentation as explained in relevant Annexes of the Directive. Classification criteria of the equipment, described in Annex I of the Directive, stipulate three levels of protection of the equipment - very high, high and normal. The design of the equipment should take into account operating conditions, grade of release of explosive substance involved, level of ventilation, types and locations of electrical and non-electrical components, potential sources of ignition, protection levels and frequency of testing. The equipment must be affixed with a plate showing name and address of the manufacturer, 'CE' marking (and number of notified body if relevant), series or type of designation, specific marking of explosive protection (Greek capital epsilon and small chi in regular hexagon), equipment group and categoiy and indication of the type of explosive atmosphere - gas or dust.
1.2 ATEX 137 (118a) Directive 1999/92/EC
ATEX 137 Directive regards health and safety protection of workers and puts a duty onto the employer to ensure minimum level of protection of workers across the EU. The duties incorporate prevention of formation of explosive atmosphere in the work place, avoiding ignition of explosive atmosphere, control the effects of explosion, use of compliant equipment, carrying out a Risk Assessment, zone classification and their marking and creating an Explosion Protection Document. The interface between both directives is depicted in Table 1.
1.3 Regulations and Guide for the ATEX Directives
The EU Council issued in 2003 a 'Non-Binding Guide of Good Practice for Implementing of the European Parliament and Council Directive 1999/92/EC on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres' (ATEX 137 Directive) that concerns in broad terms identification of hazards, risk evaluation, safety measures for workers and ensuring safe working environment during operations.