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The Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996

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Explanatory Note

(This note is not part of the Regulations)

These Regulations implement, in Great Britain, the European Parliament and the Council Directive 94/9/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (the ATEX Directive). Subject to certain limited exceptions, references in the Regulations to the Community or a member State include respectively a reference to the EEA or an EEA State, which are defined in regulation 2(1)(b).

Part II provides for the application of the Regulations. They apply to equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, devices and components (relevant definitions are contained in regulation 3), other than those excluded by regulation 4 or 5. The Regulations do not apply to the equipment, protective systems or devices specified in Schedule 5 or components for them (regulation 4). Regulation 5 sets out transitional arrangements whereby the Regulations do not apply to equipment or a protective system placed on the market in the Community/EEA on or before 30th June 2003 which complies with the health and safety provisions in respect of it which were in force in Great Britain on 23rd March 1994.

Part III sets out the general requirements of the Regulations. Regulation 6 imposes a duty on a “responsible person” (as defined in regulation 2(2)) who places on the market equipment, a protective system or device to ensure that it satisfies the relevant essential health and safety requirements and that the appropriate conformity assessment procedure has been carried out. In addition, the CE marking must be affixed to it by the manufacturer or his authorized representative in the Community/EEA in accordance with Schedule 2. The relevant product must also be safe. Any person, other than the responsible person, who supplies equipment, a protective system or device must ensure that it is safe (regulation 7) although the regulation does not apply to such a product if it has been placed on the Community/EEA market before 1st March 1996 or has previously been put into service in the Community/EEA.

Regulation 8 requires a responsible person who places a component on the market to ensure that the appropriate conformity assessment procedure has been carried out and that it is accompanied by a certificate, issued by the manufacturer or his authorized representative established in the Community/EEA, which incorporates the specified declaration and statement.

For the purposes of regulations 6 and 8, a product is not to be regarded as being placed on the market where it is for export outside the Community/EEA or is exhibited at a trade fair or exhibition (regulation 9).

The essential health and safety requirements (Annex II of the ATEX Directive) are set out in Schedule 3. Regulation 2 defines “relevant essential health and safety requirements”.

The conformity assessment procedures are set out in various “Modules” in Annexes III to IX of the ATEX Directive (which are set out in Schedules 6 to 12). The appropriate conformity assessment procedure is determined in accordance with regulation 10, on the basis of the equipment-group (as defined in regulation 2(2)) and the equipment category (as determined by the criteria in Schedule 4) of the product.

Regulation 12 provides for the appointment of notified bodies in Great Britain and specifies their functions. Regulation 13 provides for these bodies to charge fees.

Regulation 14 sets out the conditions for relevant products being taken to comply with the provisions of the ATEX Directive.

Part IV and Schedule 14 make provision for the enforcement of the Regulations by the Health & Safety Executive. In Scotland, proceedings are brought by the procurator-fiscal or Lord Advocate. Regulations 16 and 17 provide for the offences and penalties for breach of the Regulations. There are also provisions relating to the defence of due diligence (regulation 18) and liability of persons other than the principal offender (regulation 19).

Certain amendments and disapplications of the law in Great Britain are made by regulations 20 and 21. These include an amendment to The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 which is required in order to incorporate a reference to Commission Directives 91/269/EEC and 94/44/EC which adapted to technical progress Council Directive 82/130/EEC concerning electrical equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres in mines susceptible to firedamp (regulation 20(1)). Regulation 20(2) provides for the disapplication of specified Mine regulations, which are set out in that paragraph and in Schedule 15: the majority of those specified regulations are revoked with effect from 1st July 2003 (regulation 1(2) and Schedule 1). Regulation 21 makes a consequential amendment to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 and provides that these Regulations are to take effect for the purposes of the enforcement of regulation 10 of the 1992 Regulations as if the amendment had been made under section 15 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Schedule 1 also sets out other Regulations which are revoked with effect from 1st July 2003. Schedule 2 also includes provisions relating to inscriptions other than the CE marking. Schedule 13 specifies the content of the EC declaration of conformity.

A Compliance Cost Assessment in respect of these Regulations is available and a copy can be obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry, Standards Policy Unit, 3rd floor, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SS.

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