What is the ATEX Directive?
The full title is the “Explosive Atmospheres Directive (ATEX 137)”.
The Explosive Atmospheres Directive (ATEX 137) is a European Union Directive which requires employers to protect workers from the risk of explosive atmospheres.
An explosive atmosphere is defined as a mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of dangerous substances in the form of gases, vapours, mist or dust in which after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.
As a flammable or explosive substance or dust must be present to create an explosive atmosphere there is considerable overlap between the Chemical Agents Directive (CAD) and ATEX.
What should landfill owners/operators do?
If sufficiently experienced in the assessment of landfill gas they should now be carrying out the necessary risk assessments and other actions to ensure the safety of those connected with their sites. If not suitable experienced, they should engage suitable expert advice.
For operating landfills the Site Manager will normally be responsible for DSEAR compliance, however, the selection of the responsible person is less clear for closed landfills, and many may need specialist advice.
The zoning for confined spaces within landfills is becoming a matter for very careful consideration indeed, given the cost implications of installation of hazard zone compliant pumping systems. The HSE has published some guidance for landfill operators here...
New Industry Codes of Practice (ICoPs) are still being drafted for the waste management industry, with the first released in November 2005. The most important ICoP documents have already been issued, and these show how to apply hazard zoning in gas and leachate collection wells, and zoning for the area of gas dispersion in the air above gas wells, leachate wells, and monitoring boreholes.
The remaining ICoPs, including the operational landfill guidance will be issued soon
Nevertheless, the assessments need to be done carefully, and it may be prudent to collect data on methane concentrations in advance of the assessment.
As none of the Waste Industry ICoPs have yet been written for waste facilities, only general initial assessments can be completed in advance.
For full assessments are carried out in advance of the ICoPs, there will be some risks that when the relevant ICoPs are published that some changes may arise. However, it will be necessary to go ahead without the specific industry guidance to comply with the June 30 deadline.
What is DSEAR?
DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.
Dangerous substances can put peoples’ safety at risk from fire and explosion. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from risks to their safety from fires, explosions and similar events in the workplace, this includes members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity.
What are dangerous substances?
Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion. They can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from machining and sanding operations and dusts from foodstuffs.
What does DSEAR require?
- find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the fire and explosion risks are;
- put control measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them;
- put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances;
- prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances;
- make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances;
- identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment, for example) in those areas.
The text above is a short extract from the HSE web site. Visit here for more about DSEAR..
Here are the DSEA Regulations in full, in the UK Government’s Statutory Instruments web sit.
We also recommend purchase of the HSE publication, Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance, from the HSE.
This is essential reading for all those involved.