Directive 99/92/EC of 16 December 1999 on the minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres supplements the OSH Framework Directive by introducing specific requirements to protect workers against risks arising from explosive atmospheres.
The Directive is sometimes referred to as the ATEX Worker protection Directive. The Directive applies to employers with workplaces potentially containing explosive atmospheres (ATEX - Atmosphères Explosives). There is also a ATEX Product Directive (Directive 2014/34/EU) containing provisions for the persons who make products available on the market (e.g. manufacturers or distributors).
This Directive lays down minimum requirements for improving the safety and health of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.
The Directive defines 'explosive atmosphere' as a mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.
Obligations of employers
The employer shall take appropriate technical and/or organisational measures for the prevention of the formation of explosive atmospheres, or where the nature of the activity does not allow that, the avoidance of the ignition of explosive atmospheres and reduce the effects of an explosion in such a way that the health of workers is not at risk.
The employer is obliged to carry out a risk assessment according to the general provision set out in the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC taking into account the likelihood that explosive atmospheres will occur and their persistence; the likelihood that ignition sources (incl. electrostatic discharges) will be present and become active and effective; the installations, substances used, processes, and their possible interactions; and the scale of the anticipated effects.
If places where explosive atmosphere may occur are identified they must classified in accordance with Annex III of this Directive.
The employer must ensure that an explosion protection document is drawn up and kept up to date. This document shall demonstrate that health and safety protection measures are in accordance with legal requirements as set out in this Directive and in the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC.
The employer must inform workers and/or their representatives of all the measures to be taken for their safety and health at work.
The employer must take the necessary steps to ensure that workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres receive appropriate training.
Work equipment for use in places where explosive atmospheres may occur must comply with the minimum requirements laid down in the Annex II to the Directive.
Annex I – Classification of places where explosive atmospheres may occur
Annex IIA - Minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres
Annex IIB – Criteria for the selection of equipment and protective systems
- Evaluation of the Practical Implementation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Directives in EU Member States - Directive on the minimum requirements for improving safety and protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres (ATEX) (2017)
- Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 1999/92/EC "ATEX" (explosive atmospheres) Workplace Directive (2005)