ATEX (Explosive Atmospheres)
ATEX stands for atmósferas explosivas (explosive atmospheres). It is used to describe the work environments where there are substances that can produce explosive vapor or powder. To regulate how you should behave in an ATEX environment, there is a community directive that has been developed in Spain following Royal Decree 681/2003.
ATEX engineering ensures that industrial and work spaces where there is a risk for explosive atmosphere are respecting the safety rules.
ATEX engineer services are following a series of tasks required to ensure the safety of those environments.
Tandem HSE offers the following services:
Following the corresponding UNE directive, it is necessary to identify the possible leaks of inflammable substances to determine the extension of the corresponding classified zones. The risk of formation of explosive atmospheres can come from inflammable gases or from solids.
To determine the dimensions of the classified area, we apply similarity models or computer simulations.
It is necessary to identify what the effective sources of ignition are to be considered for the risk evaluation and probability of explosive atmospheres. Then, we have to establish a series of preventive measures to prevent that risk of explosion from becoming reality.
The risks are evaluated according to a scientific method called RASE (Risk Assessment of Unit Operation). With that method, a report based on technical control tables is created to prevent subjectivity.
The classification and dimensions of the classified areas, as evaluated, constitute the document for protection against explosions.
That document is an obligation and must be followed for all activities with a risk of explosion. The DOPEX also includes, in addition to the risk analysis and evaluation, a mandatory guide for any work or installation that you want to perform within the classified areas.
In addition to that, the DOPEX provides an action plan for the correction and adaptation of any defect detected during the evaluation phase.
For the risk reduction, an action plan is defined to prevent or mitigate an eventual accident caused by the generation of an explosive atmosphere. This action plan requires a supervisor to verify that it is being completed correctly.
ATEX zones require a highly prescribed and specialized treatment. The existing regulation is broad and meticulous. The existing risks in ATEX environments can have very serious consequences for people and installations; because of that, it is necessary to rely on specialized engineering in those work environments.
The DOPEX will also feature the criteria to follow when it is necessary to re-evaluate the risks within the ATEX zone, because the circumstances have changed or there were some modifications in the installations. If there are new processes, it could be necessary to reclassify or update the existing DOPEX.
Each one of the phases that we described in this section is vital to prevent risks: the RASE report, the DOPEX document as well as creation and re-evaluation of the ATEX zones.
It is essential to give each employee a specific training, to make them aware of the risks caused by the generation of an explosive atmosphere.
In addition to the training, all safety procedures for both regular and specific jobs to be performed within the classified areas must be followed.