18 November 2019
Safety should be top
priority in any workplace, but some settings are more hazardous than others. Many
industries include manufacturing or processing practices that create
potentially explosive conditions, such as the gas supply sector, and the pharmaceutical and varnishing
Workers who operate in
environments like these still need the backup of digital support but, unless
rugged industrial mobile devices have the proper certification, it’s not safe
or legal for them to be used anywhere that could be hazardous.
This certification is
ATEX – a legal standard based on two European Directives that govern the
management of explosive atmospheres.
What is ATEX certification?
ATEX certification covers the minimum requirements for improving
the health and safety protection of workers, as well as the equipment and
protective systems used in potentially explosive environments. It exists to
minimise the risks posed by working in these settings, making it an essential
safety measure and a legal compliance standard for employers.
The definition of what
makes an atmosphere explosive under ATEX is outlined as part of the wider Dangerous
Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). Under DSEAR, an
explosive atmosphere is defined as “a mixture of dangerous substances with air,
under atmospheric conditions, in the form of gases, vapours, mist or dust in
which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned
Under ATEX, potentially explosive atmospheres
must be classified with a specific level of risk via a zone classification
(e.g. Zone 0, Zone 1, Zone 2 etc), based on the how likely an accident could
be, how often the explosive atmosphere is present and how long any reaction
would last if it was to occur.
What devices can be ATEX certified?
By law, only ATEX
certified devices can be used in a potentially explosive working environment.
Thankfully though, there is an extensive range of fit-for-purpose ATEX certified mobile devices, from tablets to vehicle mounted devices and
Not only are these
devices built to rugged specifications – shock and drop resistant, water and dust
proof, with ultra-touch and responsive touchscreens – they are also designed to
meet and exceed ATEX standards. A device that is ATEX certified has been fully
and independently tested by an official ATEX certification body.
ATEX certification and Brexit
At the time of
writing, the outcome of Brexit is yet to be determined. However, as ATEX is a
European Directive, there are questions about what Brexit could mean for the
continued legality of ATEX certification in the UK.
While nothing is known
with upmost certainty at this stage, the
Office for Product Safety & Standards has published a revised copy of the
regulation: Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres, which currently puts ATEX into effect in the
UK. This revised regulation will come into force if the UK leaves the European
Union (EU) without a deal.
If, on the other hand,
a Brexit deal is done, any changes to ATEX will depend on the exact details of
the specific agreement. However, it seems that any deal in which the UK ceases
to be part of the single market, EU employment law would no longer apply –
including ATEX - and the UK government would have to enact its own legislation
to govern the management of working in explosive atmospheres. Of course, it
remains to be seen how exactly Brexit and its impact on ATEX will play out.
Rugged ATEX certified mobile devices
from the experts
At Touchstar, we have
decades of experience advising and supplying our customers with the right
rugged mobile hardware to meet their operational needs, including rugged
devices certified for ATEX Zone 2 conditions. We can help your business protect its
employees, ensure legal health and safety compliance, and benefit from the
improved efficiency and streamlined processes rugged mobile computers provide. To
find out more, please get in touch with our friendly team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH
Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001. Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.
In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.