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Why a Directive on ATEX equipment and protective systems?

European Union policy regarding equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX) has two key aims: to ensure the highest possible levels of safety and security and to harmonise the rules governing their sale and circulation within the EU.

The presence of the CE marking is an indication that ATEX equipment and protective systems meet the harmonised safety requirements in place to allow them to be sold anywhere in the European Economic Area (made up of the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) as well as in Turkey. This also applies to products manufactured in third countries and intended to be placed on the European market.

CE marking and Directive 2014/34/EU

In addition to equipment and protective systems, the ATEX Directive (2014/34/EU) also applies to safety devices, controlling devices and regulating devices for use outside potentially explosive atmospheres but needed for the safe functioning of ATEX equipment and protective systems.

The Directive defines equipment as ‘machines, apparatus, fixed or mobile devices, control components and instrumentation thereof and detection or prevention systems which, separately or jointly, are intended for the generation, transfer, storage, measurement, control and conversion of energy and/or the processing of material and which are capable of causing an explosion through their own potential sources of ignition’.

Protective systems are defined as ‘devices other than components of the equipment defined above which are intended to halt incipient explosions immediately and/or to limit the effective range of an explosion and which are separately placed on the market as autonomous systems’.

The Directive does not apply to medical devices, means of transport, seagoing vessels, or personal protective equipment covered by the Regulation (EU)2016/425. It also does not apply to equipment and protective systems where the hazard results only from the presence of explosive substances or unstable chemical substances, or from accidental leakage of fuel gas.


  • Equipment protection by flameproof enclosures "d"
  • Equipment protection by pressurized enclosure "p"
  • Equipment protection by increased safety "e"
  • Equipment protection by intrinsic safety "i"
  • Equipment protection by type of protection "n"
  • Equipment protection by encapsulation "m"
  • Protection of equipment and transmission systems using optical radiation "op"
  • Electrical resistance trace heating
  • Flame arresters
  • Non-electrical type of protection
    constructional safety "c", control of ignition sources "b", liquid immersion "k"

On the road to CE marking – conformity assessment

The conformity assessment procedures to be followed by manufacturers prior to affixing the CE marking on their products are set out in Article 13 of the Directive. There are different procedures to be followed, depending on the type of equipment or protective system in question. The equipment groups and categories are explained in Annex I of the Directive and the details of the various conformity assessment procedures are set out in Annexes III to IX.

Once the relevant conformity assessment procedure has been completed, the manufacturer must affix the CE marking to the equipment, protective systems and devices covered by the Directive. The CE marking must be affixed ‘visibly, legibly and indelibly’. If a Notified Body was involved in the conformity assessment procedure, its identification number must also be displayed following the CE marking.

Checking the essential requirements and finding the relevant European Harmonised Standards

The first step a manufacturer should take to ensure that ATEX equipment and protective systems will be compliant with Directive 2014/34/EU is to check the essential health and safety requirements relating to the design and construction of the equipment – set out in Annex II of the Directive – and to find which European Harmonised Standards are applicable. A list of harmonised standards for ATEX can be found on the European Commission’s Enterprise and Industry website.

Need more information?

The European Commission has launched a one-stop-shop web portal with all the information you need on CE marking:

If your product(s) fall(s) within the sector “Equipment and protective systems for potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX)" the following Directive applies: