Atex Directive, RoHS Directive, CE Mark Directive and EMC Directive : what is a Directive generally?

An EU directive is a legislative act of the European Union requiring member states to achieve a particular result. The directive does not dictate the means of getting that result. They are binding on the member states to whom they are addressed. Directives usually leave member states with some leeway as to the exact rules to be adopted.

Atex Directive

Atex Directive: What is it?

Atex stands for ATmospheres EXplosibles “potentially explosive atmospheres”. Explosive atmospheres can be caused by

  • Flammable gases
  • Mists
  • Vapours
  • Combustible dusts.

If there is enough of the substance, mixed with air, then all it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion.

ATEX is the name given to the framework for controlling explosive atmospheres plus the standards of equipment and protective systems used in them.

ATEX Directives: Which European Directives apply?

ATEX Certification is based on meeting the requirements of 2 EU Directives:

EU CE Mark Directive 99/92/EC also known as ATEX 137 or the ATEX Workplace Directive setting out minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers at risk of explosions

EU CE Mark Directive 94/9/EC also known as Atex 95 or the ATEX Equipment Directive on the approximation of the laws of Members States re equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Atex Certification: Why get it?

Manufacturers / suppliers (or importers, if the manufacturers are outside the EU) must ensure their products meet essential health and safety requirements and undergo appropriate Declaration of Conformity procedures.

Usually this means testing and Atex certification by a “third-party’ certification body (known as a Notified Body). However, manufacturers / suppliers can ‘self certify’ equipment meant to be used in less hazardous explosive atmospheres. Once certified, the equipment is marked by “EX” symbol to identify it as having Atex Certification.

Atex Certification ensures the equipment or protective system is fit for its intended purpose and that adequate information is supplied with it to ensure it can be used safely.

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RoHS Directive 

RoHS Directive: What is it?

This EU Directive 2002/95/EC refers to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances placed in electrical and electronic equipment placed on the European market.

Substances referred to in this EU Directive are Cadmium (CD), Mercury (Hg), hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and Lead (Pb).

RoHS Directive: which EU Directives apply?

EU Directive 2002/95/EC applies. The RoHS Directive is closely linked with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive WEEE 2002/96/EC which sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for electrical goods and is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of huge amounts of toxic e-waste. In casual conversation, it is often pronounced "ROSH", or "Row Haws", except in Europe, where it is pronounced "Rose".

RoHS seeks to reduce the amount of hazardous materials entering electronic products while WEEE deals with reducing the amount of electronics entering landfills. RoHS is the beginning, and WEEE is the end.

RoHS Directive Certification: why get it?

RoHS Directive principles and reach are global. This EU directive indicates that anything covered by RoHS entering the European Union must be in compliance. That includes cables made in China, parts molded in the U.S. and PCB's made in Japan. If it's destined for the EU, it is impacted by the RoHS Directive.

It's not just the EU that is taking steps to reduce the toxins in electronic devices,. California's Electronics Waste Recycling act of 2003 (SB 20, Chapter 526) echoes the RoHS directive and takes effect January 1, 2007. Japan, China, and Korea are expected to follow with laws of their own.

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EMC Directive

EMC Directive: What is it?

EMC Directive 89/336/EEC refers to ElectroMagnetic Compatibility. This EU Directive describes the ability of an electrical product to be immune from interference directed to it as well as its ability not to interfere with the operation of other electrical products. If the product satisfies these criteria, then the product is said to be electro-magnetically compatible.

EMC Directive: which EU Directives apply?

EMC Directive 89/336/EEC applies to ElectroMagnetic Compatibility.

EMC Directive Certification: why get it?

Manufacturers or distributors placing electrical products into the EU market must show compliance with the requirements of this EMC Directive. They must sign a Declaration of Conformity. This is a legally binding declaration that the essential requirements of the EU directive have been met by the product type.

Decision whether to get mark certification by testing is a risk assessment, weighing the risk of prosecution versus the cost of certification.

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