Most frequent questions and answers
ATEX Certification is a product regulation which ensures the safety of equipment intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres in the European Union. Certifying your products to ATEX helps improve the safety and protect the health of workers potentially at risk from explosive environments such as those found in the petrochemical industries, underground mining or food production.
IECEx certification is a worldwide scheme based on compliance with IEC standards that facilities international trade while ATEX is a mandatory scheme based upon compliance with specified essential requirements within the EU.
The EN 60079 series of standards were put in place to test electrical equipment and assemblies that pose an ignition risk going into potential explosive atmospheres, with specific standards relating to specific protection concepts.
The protection concepts are defined methods and approaches that manufacturers apply as part of their special precautions to reduce the likelihood of ignition being present to an acceptable level. ATEX Zones are the dangerous areas used for classification between environments with different levels of danger.
The protection concepts and ATEX Zones that your products should be tested to are determined by yourself or driven by the market.
ATEX certification requirements vary depending on the category of equipment and the zones of the equipment’s intended use.
We perform ATEX testing on materials, such as air powered drills or turbine assemblies that are going into an ATEX Zone and can potentially generate and store a static charge. These tests give you confidence in the materials used and the pace of mind. However, as they pose no actual ignition risk in themselves, the products cannot be ATEX certified. For example, with a plastic bucket, although there could be a small buildup of static, the bucket in itself cannot cause a spark or discharge and therefore would not be a risk.
When certifying a product over which you have no design control, it is essential to find out whether the product or material that it’s made of has been altered in the design process. If this is the case, manufacturers must confirm that any alterations made fall within the limitations of the standards that a product had initially been certified to. Even then, you may still require to perform an amount of additional testing. Because of this, certifying a product bought off the shelf from another company is extremely difficult and verges on impossible if you do not have a close working relationship with them.
IECEx provides a means for manufacturers, regulators and users of equipment used in hazardous areas to address the risk of fires or explosions from flammable gases or dusts. Testing and certification of equipment, services and competence of persons to international standards facilitates the sale of safer products internationally at a lower cost.
This is achieved through the Conformity Assessment process where approved IECEx Certifying Bodies (ExCBs) conduct testing of Ex equipment to relevant IEC Standards (Equipment Scheme), and the manufacturer producing the Ex equipment remains under audit surveillance ensuring they have a quality management system to replicate the test sample during production. This is referred to as the Quality Assessment Report (QAR). The final step is then issuing the manufacturer with an IECEx Certificate of Conformity (CoC) which the controlled copy (electronic version) is available from the IECEx website. The IECEx CoC includes the summary reports from the laboratory test report of the equipment (ExTR) and the surveillance audits (QARs).
The IECEx System is a set of four separate Schemes (of which one relates to Ex Equipment) that were developed to satisfy the calls from the Ex industry for international recognition and coordination of the outputs of various certification systems and test laboratories (house) with different practises with different levels of expertise.
The IECEx scheme operates from the platform of having a single Qualification Process for the assessment and evaluation of Certification Bodies and Test Laboratories to ensure that they have the necessary test equipment and facilities with staff holding the necessary level of technical expertise to conduct testing and certification, and
establishing a single way of conducting Ex testing and certification – we refer to this as doing Ex certification the “IECEx Way”. As an illustration, it is acceptable under ATEX to rely solely on a manufacturer’s declaration for Zone 2 equipment (Ex ‘n’) whereas for IECEx we do not discriminate between Zone 0, 1, 2. All equipment under IECEx must be independently tested and certified in order to carry the IECEx certificate number and have an IECEx Certificate issued on the IECEx website.
Therefore, while we have some 57 ExCBs approved by IECEx to issue IECEx certificates, it is important to know that these bodies may still conduct testing and certification according to their local schemes, eg ATEX for EU based ExCBs and American for US based etc. So to be sure that the product is covered by an IECEx certification, the Ex equipment must carry on the marking plate the IECEx Certificate number “IECEx XXX 18.0001” where:
‘IECEx’ shows that it is an IECEx certification
‘XXX’ identifies the ExCB that issued the IECEx certificate
‘18’ Represents the last 2 digits of the year of issue
‘0001’ represents the running certificate number issued in that year
The fundamental differences between ATEX and IECEx are:
Targeted Jurisdiction for ATEX is the European Union but does get used on a voluntary basis outside EU
ATEX requires compliance with the EHSR listed in Annex II and uses compliance with Standards as a “deemed to comply with EHSR requirements” meaning that strict compliance with Standards is NOT a requirement of ATEX. However most manufacturers use standards as their means to demonstrate compliance with the EHSRs
Bodies offering ATEX services are known as “Notified Bodies” (ExNB). These bodies are qualified by the official body within their own country with the official body in the country issuing a notification to the EU Commission.
A certificate issued by an ExNB is called “EU – Type Examination Certificate” and is not a Certificate of Conformity.
The assessment and testing/certification process of ATEX as with EU Directives is risk based, meaning that for lower risk areas like previous zone 2 or Ex n, ATEX allows full manufacturer’s declaration without involvement of an ExNB
When it comes to IECEx, Targeted Jurisdiction is the world, all countries
As such, IECEx is a true International Certification Scheme where full compliance with IEC International Standards are required
Rather than being qualified within a certification body or Test Lab’s own country, IECEx Certification Bodies (ExCB) and IECEx Test Labs (ExTL) are evaluated and qualified according to a single international process managed and approved by the single International IECEx Management Committee. Each ExTL and ExCB is visited and assessed by an expert team of assessors from IECEx.
IECEx operates a Technical Secretariat with the IECEx Executive Secretary appointed with the Chief Executive Officer Function of the Scheme to handle day to day matters, reporting to the IECEx Executive and Management Committee
ExCBs issue IECEx Certificates of Conformity that require that samples be fully tested against the Standard regardless of the zone of use of the product.
IECEx Certificates are ALL publicly available for full viewing at the IECEx Website. This provides a single central On-Line location where Certificates issued by all IECEx approved ExCBs are located. In effect we say if the IECEx certificate does not appear on the website then it is not issued.
IECEx operates separate Schemes for
IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme
IECEx Certified Service Facility Scheme
IECEx Certification of Personnel Competencies (CoPC) Scheme
IECEx is the only Certification scheme to be formally endorsed by the United Nations as “world’s best practise and recommended model” for use by regulators when regulating the use of Ex equipment and Services.
The point to understand is that ATEX has been set up and works effectively within EU where there exists EU legislation as the overarching requirement.
As IECEx operates globally across many national and regional jurisdictions, the IECEx rules governing acceptance of ExTLs, ExCBs and the process of certification needs to be comprehensive to ensure that confidence and integrity in IECEx certifications are maintained.
So while from a legislative perspective, all that is required to sell Ex products in EU is ATEX, customers are asking for IECEx as well.
These and other differences are explained in more detail on our IECEx Guidance Publication IECEx 01A available for free download at http://iecex.com/Publications/IECExGuides/IECEx 01A
If the company has an ATEX approval based on CENELEC standards similar to IEC, can this certificate easily be converted to an IEC Ex certificate without any additional tests, or is it only a question about paper works by any IECEx ExTL?
If the testing under ATEX has been done and satisfies all requirements of the relevant IEC Standard(s), then it is a case of transferring the test data into the IECEx Test Report format.
The IECEx Operational Document, OD 009 provides further explanation
More information about the similarities and differences between IECEx System and ATEX Directives can be found in http://iecex.com/dmsdocument/464/IECEx 01A
No, an IECEx Certificate of Acceptance confirms that a testing laboratory is an accepted / approved Test Laboratory for conducting testing to IEC Ex Standards.
An IECEx Certificate of Conformity (Equipment) issued by a IECEx Certification Body (ExCB) to a manufacturer of equipment supplying products that satisfy the relevant requirements of appropriate IEC Standards AND are manufactured in factories that continue to satisfy requirements checked regularly by surveillance audits.
IECEx Certificates of Conformity for Service Facilities and Personnel Competencies are also issued by ExCBs to demonstrate compliance of service facilities or individuals to relevant requirements. The ongoing compliance is also checked by audit.
The first point of contact should be the manufacture. If for whatever reason the question relates to the specifics of the Certificate, then the ExCB who issued the Certificate should be contacted. The list of ExCBs including their contact details can be found on the IECEx website at: https://www.iecex.com/information/excbs/httpwww-iecex-comdirectorybodiesbodies1-aspid5/
Simply click on the Identifier and this will populate the ExCB details including email, phone, and Scope of IEC Standards they can issue and test to.
Only approved IECEx Certification Bodies (ExCBs) can operate within the IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme and issue IECEx Test Reports (ExTRs), and IECEx Quality Assessment Reports (QARs). The list of IECEx Certification Bodies can be accessed from the IECEx website under Information/ExCBs:
The Certified Equipment Scheme approved IECEx Certification Bodies can be accessed from the IECEx website from the following link:
The IECEx webpage provides ExCBs by Country and Identifier. By clicking on the blue Identifier (company name) this will populate the specific details of the ExCB including their contact details and approved Scope of Standards they can test to.
The cost of multiple certifications in terms of both certification costs and time to market are no longer acceptable to industry operating in a global marketplace. This aspect is the very reason IECEx was born in the first place.
While accepting that many established markets will require their own national or regional certificate/approval to be issued, one must not overlook the markets that do not have their own Ex standards nor an Ex certification or approval scheme. These countries are ready to accept an International Certificate of Conformity issued under the IEC framework. Many of these are developing economies where infrastructure is being built or upgraded.
For other countries with their own certification/approval system, the IECEx Rules are very clear on those countries that are IECEx Members. They must recognise the conformity assessment data that is generated to achieve an IECEx Certificate.
Will an IEC Ex Certificate of Conformity be accepted into all the countries that are listed as IECEx Members or are some of these countries still to adopt fully the IEC Ex Scheme?
Most of the IECEx Member Countries still require some form of processing to issue their own national mark or certification or approval however every ExCB listed in the Scheme MUST accept the testing done by other bodies in the Scheme when issuing their own national system. Thereby the IECEx Scheme provides a “fast-track” process to achieving national certification in countries where regulations still require such.
The current list of IECEx Member Countries is available at http://iecex.com/information/countries/
Also, there are a number of other countries that are not considered as participating members of IECEx but accept an IECEx CoC.
No, but the frequency of ongoing surveillance audits on manufacturing or service facilities is reduced (the period is 18 months instead 12 months) if your company has ISO 9001 certification.
More information is available in Clause 18.104.22.168.2 of IECEx Operational Document OD 025
In the IECEx System, a change of Ex Certifying Body (ExCB) to conduct the Quality Assessment Report (QAR) surveillance is seen as a change to the Certificate and therefore the Certificate of interest and any other Certificates of Conformity (CoCs) related to the original QAR need to be updated to the next Issue number and then show the link to the new QAR. The link to the Ex Test Report (ExTR) related to your product and supporting the CoC can remain the same – there is no need for the new ExCB to issue a new ExTR.
In the Field “DETAILS OF CERTIFICATE CHANGES (for issues 1 and above):” on the new Issue of the CoC, the ExCB (responsible for issuing the CoC) will simply state: “This new Issue of the Certificate is to cover a change in the ExCB for conducting surveillance assessments and issuing of QARs”.
To progress this, we suggest the following steps:
you arrange for the new ExCB to conduct the surveillance audit and issue a new QAR
you then contact the ExCB that issued the original IECEx Certificates of Conformity (CoC) and request a new Issue of the CoC to link to the new QAR. The only work for the ExCB to create a new Issue of the CoC is to confirm that the QAR covers the same manufacturing location as already listed on the CoC, confirm that the Ex techniques on the QAR are the same as already listed on the CoC.
The reason for the above process is to ensure that transparency is maintained to show that the CoC is being supported by a current and valid QAR at all times plus as a confirmation that the correct manufacturing locations and Ex technology match between the CoC and QARs.
While the ExCB that needs to create the new Issue CoC to link to the new QAR may charge a small fee, this is largely an administrative matter, the costs would be low in addition to the cost of Certificate fee.
Is it possible to obtain a Certificate of Conformity using an ExTR and QAR issued by different IECEx Certifying Bodies (ExCBs) or Ex Test Laboratories (ExTLs)?
There are the three essential elements when achieving a product IECEx certificate of conformity (CoC).
a Test Report (ExTR) to the relevant Standard(s)
a Quality Assessment Report (QAR) for the facility where a product is manufactured or a service is provided
the Certificate of Conformity (CoC) itself.
It is both possible and common to obtain a CoC using an ExTR and QAR issued by different IECEx Certifying Bodies (ExCBs) or Ex Test Laboratories (ExTLs) – the control of this situation is provided by the IECEx Certification Body (ExCB) that issues the CoC and has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that:
the ExTR and QAR are complete and correct
they both relate to same product,
the manufacturing site listed on the QAR is the same as that on the CoC.
the ongoing surveillance program is carried, i.e. that annual surveillance audits are carried out and that they review such reports to ensure that there are no non-conformance’s raised.
Item 8.1.1 of IECEx 02 Rules of Procedure requires that new Certificates only be issued against the current edition of the Standard or one edition prior.
Note also that:
There is an exemption for IECEx Unit Verification Certificates which can be issued to any edition of the Standard
At present there is NO requirement to upgrade a previously issued Certificate to a later edition of the Standard
Changes may be made to previously issued certificates (the issuing of a New Issue of a Certificate) and the older editions of the Standard maybe used, that is, there is no need to upgrade the product to later editions of Standards when seeking a new issue of the Certificate.
The main rationale for the above is that in general, when a certificate number is issued, noting that IEC 60079-0 requires that the year of issue is to be incorporated into a certificate reference number, hence there is an expectation that a certificate number say “IECEx XX 18.0001” then the certificate would relate to an edition of the Standard or, to take the words of ATEX, reflect ‘state of the art as at 2018’.
The publication of a new Edition of a Standard does not require a new or supplementary issue of the certificate of equipment covered by IECEx Certificates of Conformity as a Certificate attests that the specified equipment satisfied the requirements of the previous Edition(s) of the Standard and this may be sufficient for the requirements of certain customers or users.
The IECEx System management structure confirms that an IECEx Certification body has been judged to meet the requirements of the IECEx Rules, which include compliance with ISO/IEC 17065, BUT the IECEx does not warrant the decision taken by an Ex Certification Body when they issue the certificate (refer to the IEC CA 01 Harmonized Basic Rules and IECEx 01-S, Section 10, Clause 10.3)
Both IEC CA 01 and IECEx 01-S are available from http://iecex.com/publications/iecex-rules/
Can an approved IECEx ExCBs issue Certification for non-electrical equipment that operates in a hazardous area?
Yes, as long as the ExCB hold ISO/IEC 80079-36 and ISO/IEC 80079-37 within their Scope of Standards as listed on the IECEx website.
ATEX, which is a combination of the first syllables of the French words “ATmosphéres EXplosives”, means “Explosive Environment”.
It is possible to basically divide ATEX into two. The first of these is the work on product safety certification and CE and Exproof marking of the product carried out within the scope of the ” Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (2014/34/EU)”. The second one deals with the precautions to be taken to protect the personnel working in explosive atmospheres from possible dangers within the scope of the ” Regulation on the Protection of Employees from the Hazards of Explosive Environments “. In workplaces covered by this regulation, an Explosion Protection Document (PKD) must be prepared.
In accordance with the “Regulation on the Protection of Employees from the Hazards of Explosive Environments“, these substances are considered as substances that can create an explosive atmosphere, unless it is proved by research that the mixtures of flammable and/or combustible materials with air will not cause an explosion independently. The locations of these substances should be classified into zones based on the frequency of occurrence of explosive atmospheres and the duration of this atmosphere. These classifications should be specified in the Explosion Protection Document (PKD).
The classification of dangerous places is as follows for gases and dusts.
Zone 0: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is present continuously or for long periods or frequently.
Zone 1: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is likely to occur periodically or occasionally in normal operation.
Zone 2: An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, it will exist for a short period only.
Zone 20: A place in which an explosive dust atmosphere, in the form of a cloud of dust in air, is present continuously, or for long periods or frequently.
Zone 21: A place in which an explosive dust atmosphere, in the form of a cloud of dust in air, is likely to occur in normal operation occasionally
Zone 22: Area in which an explosive dust atmosphere, in the form of a cloud of combustible dust in air, is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only
The word exproof comes from the combination of the words “explosion proof”. It literally means explosion-proof. Ex-proof equipment is special equipment used in potentially explosive atmospheres.
Ex-proof equipment and protective systems should be used in places where an explosive atmosphere may occur, determined as a result of the evaluations made in the Explosion Protection Document (PKD), and should be selected according to the categories specified in the Regulation on Equipment and Protective Systems Used in Possible Explosive Environments (2014/34/EU).
Ex-proof equipment consists of 3 categories in total. Equipment in the appropriate category for the explosive atmosphere class should be selected.
Zone 0 or Zone 20: Category 1 equipment,
Zone 1 or Zone 21: Category 1 or 2 equipment,
Zone 2 or Zone 22: Category 1, 2 or 3 equipment could be used.
ATEX regulations are basically divided into two. The first of these is the Regulation on Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (2014/34/EU). The purpose of this regulation is to determine the basic health and safety rules required for safe placing on the market of equipment and protective systems used in potentially explosive atmospheres, as well as the procedures and principles regarding conformity assessment procedures and market surveillance.
The second is the “Regulation on the Protection of Employees from the Hazards of Explosive Environments. The purpose of this regulation is to regulate the procedures and principles regarding the precautions to be taken in order to protect the employees from the dangers of explosive atmospheres that may occur in the workplace in terms of health and safety. Explosion Protection Document (PKD) must be prepared in workplaces covered by the regulation.
In accordance with the Regulation on Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (2014/34/EU), manufacturers of equipment and protective systems used in potentially explosive atmospheres (Exproof equipment) must obtain ATEX certificate by the notified body within the scope of this regulation in order to print CE on their products and to place them on the market. required. As Szutest, we are a notified body within the scope of ATEX, and we serve our manufacturers for the evaluation and certification of the conformity of the products for CE and Exproof marking purposes.
Manufacturers of equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres are obliged to ensure that their products comply with Directive 2014/34/EU. Manufacturers of products within the scope of ATEX 2014/34/EU Directive equipment and protective systems can supply the products to the market by obtaining an ATEX certificate from the notified body within the scope of 2014/34/EU Directive.
When classifying the hazards of explosive atmospheres, it should be classified into zones based on the frequency of occurrence of the explosive atmosphere and the duration of this environment. Hazard classification for each explosive atmosphere should be evaluated in the Explosion Protection Document (PKD). Hazard classes are expressed as zones.
The classification of hazardous areas is as follows for gases and dusts.
Gases: Zone 0, Zone 1, Zone 2
Dusts: Zone 20, Zone 21, Zone 2
Manufacturers producing equipment and protective systems used in potentially explosive atmospheres are obliged to ensure that their products meet the health and safety requirements of the 2014/34/EU Directive. For this reason, manufacturers of products covered by the ATEX directive are required to obtain an ATEX Certificate in order to print CE on their products and to be able to supply them to the market.
In accordance with the ” Regulation on the Protection of Employees from the Hazards of Explosive Environments “, these substances are considered as substances that can create an explosive atmosphere, unless it is proved by research that the mixtures of flammable and/or combustible materials with air will not cause an explosion independently. For this reason, places, where an explosive atmosphere may occur, are considered dangerous in this context and these workplaces have an obligation to prepare/prepare Explosion Protection Document (PKD).