ATEX is an abbreviation for "ATmosphere EXplosible". and is the name commonly given to the two European Directives used to control hazardous areas explosive atmospheres. But when most people are talking about the Atex directive they generally mean the equipment directive.
Describes the minimum requirements for the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres and is therefore part dependant on the equipment directive and is key in its implementation.
The equipment directive(formerly 94/9/EC) Defines the requirements for equipment intended of use in potentially explosive atmospheres (p.e.a..) and is implemented by the 'The Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996'
The original Atex Directive 94/9/EC has been replaced by 2014/34/EU which became mandatory in April 2016. This new Atex directive does not directly affect the standards, but is about the legal standing bringing Atex into the EU New Legislative Framework (NLF).
Being Directive these are mandatory across all EU countries' and are implemented in the UK by The DSEAR regulation and provide the Legal Framework for the use of the European Atex Standards, primarily En 60079 and EN 80079.
Now the UK has left the EU, although Atex is valid for the interim period it is likely than any legal procedures i.e. enforcement, will cite UK law1 rather than Atex. As with most things legal in the UK the practical ramifications are unknown until it is tested in court.
It would be interesting to hear from the legal profession on this. ↩