Standards Work

Driven mainly by the European single market, and the ATEX directive, the 20 year period from 1995 years saw a tremendous effort to produce harmonised standards for equipment such as flame arrestors, explosion vent panels, mechanical equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, together with standards for test methods for the hazardous properties of gases, vapours and dusts. It is always worrying how few manufacturers take an active part in this process.

Alan was a member of the renumbered BSI committee EXL/23 (Explosion and Fire Precautions in Industrial and Chemical Plant) which covers all these topics from 1996, and was chair of the committee from Aug 2007 until December 2015. As a step towards retirement he handed on the chairman’s role to David Long from Protego, and gained a distinguished service certificate for 25 years work on different standards committees.

Alan has also worked at different times on the CENELEC subcommittees which were responsible for the standards for hazardous area classification, for both liquids and gases, and for dusts.

He has also been active at the European level, in Working Group 2 of CEN TC 305. This working group was responsible for writing the standards for mechanical equipment subject to ATEX. Following the untimely death of Dr Richard Rogers, Alan became Working Group convenor during 2008. The working group was responsible for the various parts of EN 13463, which described various ways of constructing mechanical equipment to meet the different ATEX categories. A new project has started to develop a European standard for ATEX vacuum cleaners. This is registered at present as a provisional work item, and does not appear on the CEN list of projects for TC305. Alan chaired his last meeting of this Working group in September 2015.

To read more about the work of EXL/23 and the linked electrical committee EXL/31click here and put in the committee number

To see the published standards from TC 305 click here and insert TC305 as the search criterion
The current work programme is available here . Notable is the dropping of work on vacuum cleaners for use in hazardous areas. A preliminary work item was registered, and two rounds of meetings discussed proposals, but there was very little agreement between the manufacturers present about the requirements, and it seems the project has been dropped. That does not stop companies selling machines they claim comply with the directive.

Protecting vehicles from creating ignition risks is not simple, and the original standard for ATEX fork lift trucks, EN 1755 was widely criticised. The safety concept developed by Pyroban, of mounting one or more gas detectors on the vehicle, and turning all ignition sources off if gas was detected, did not fit tidily with the electrical standards in the EN 60079 series. The first revision of EN 1755 was published in November 2015.

Perhaps this is the solution.


As soon as the work of TC305 WG2 largely complete, it was offered up to the international level, and it was decided that the output would eventually appear as ISO/IEC dual badged standards. This work is being handled in Subcommittee SC31M of IEC Technical Committee TC31, which started the process in November 2007. The first work items for transfer to the International level are those on mining equipment, and quality systems for ATEX equipment. The 2008 meeting of IEC TC31 agreed to start work on transfer of EN standards on non-electrical ATEX equipment ( i.e. EN 13463) to the international level. That process is being progressed with the intention of creating 2 standards from 4 European standards, to become eventually ISO 80079-36 and ISO 80079-37. The first standard will be an international version of EN 13463-1 covering basic requirements for Ex mechanical equipment, and a second project team has drawn together some of the other parts of EN 13463 to describe equipment with a higher level of protection. The text for both ISO 80079-36 and 80079-37 has been agreed at the formal vote stage by CEN, ISO and IEC, and subject only to final editorial checks will be published soon.
Waiting in the wings were laboratories who are members of the IEC Ex scheme, who saw these standards as opening a new market for certification work, although hardly any mechanical equipment requires this under ATEX.
Standards which are formally recognised by the European commission as providing a way of meeting all the essential safety requirements are published in the Official Journal of the EU and the ones relevant to ATEX are listed again here