This Statement is applicable only to our European Customers.
There are two European directives covering personnel and equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres. These ‘New Approach’ directives are:
Places a duty on the employer to ensure the health and safety of their workforce.
The intention is to ensure that workers enjoy a minimum level of protection throughout the European Union.
This covers equipment intended for use in hazardous areas.
It is concerned with the specification, construction and operation of equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.
As of 1st July 2003, both directives are now mandatory within the European Union. This document seeks to clarify Genevac’s position regarding this legislation.
The ATEX 137 "Worker Safety" Directive, (1999/92/EC) repeats the already accepted zoning concept:
Zone 2 - The hazard is not normally expected to occur and, if it does, will do so for short periods infrequently.
Zone 1 - The hazard may occur frequently for short periods or infrequently for extended periods.
Zone 0 - The hazard may be present continuously.
The ATEX 100a "Equipment" Directive formalises the element of ignition risk by dividing equipment into three categories:
Category 3 - Equipment which is safe in normal operating conditions.
Category 2 - Equipment which is safe with normally expected malfunctions.
Category 1 - Equipment which is safe even with rare malfunctions.
The ATEX directives formalise the responsibilities between the equipment owner and the equipment supplier:
It is the responsibility of the equipment owner to specify equipment that is suitable for use within a particular Zone. This would be after confirming, by risk assessment that, for example, Category 3 equipment is suitable for use in a Zone 2 area.
It is the responsibility of the equipment supplier to supply equipment that is ‘fit for purpose’ as described in any tender document (e.g. A centrifugal evaporator meeting the requirements for Category 3 of the ATEX Directive).
Genevac’s Position in the Context of the ATEX Directives
There are two environments that must be considered when evaluating the implications of the ATEX directives:
The general environment of the laboratory or fume hood surrounding the evaporator.
The environment within the evaporator system.
1. Environment Surrounding the Evaporator
It is the responsibility of the user of the equipment to classify (Zone) their particular environment in order to determine if there are any particular requirements placed upon the equipment they are about to use. Centrifugal Evaporators are operated within either a chemistry laboratory or a fume hood, so it is these environments that must be considered.
As stated previously, the final decision regarding the zoning of this environment is the responsibility of the user. If it is decided that the environment has to be considered as zone 0, zone 1 or zone 2, then this places requirements on the equipment supplied and intended to be used within that environment. For example, should zone 2 be chosen (the least demanding) then the equipment must, as a minimum, conform to the requirements of Category 3 equipment. Note; this would be a minimum requirement and the purchaser of the equipment could only make the final decision on the category of the equipment after an appropriate risk assessment.
Discussions held with several users of our evaporators have confirmed that they consider the general laboratory and ‘fully extracted’ fume hood environments to be classified as Safe Areas. For these users therefore, there are no special requirements placed on the equipment in the context of the ATEX 137 Directive. All Genevac systems are suitable for use in Safe Areas, and therefore suitable for use in laboratories and fume hoods considered to be safe areas.
The position regarding re-circulating fume hoods is, however, less clear. The final decision for these fume hoods would depend on a number of factors, which may include the types of solvent being used, the frequency of use and the quantities of solvent involved and working practices. For example, any potential risk of an explosive atmosphere would be reduced if common working practice in a lab were to immediately clear up any solvent spillage. The user of the fume hood must take this decision. Should it be decided, for example, that the area is Zone 2, then equipment of at least Category 3 would be required. Genevac Ltd has evaluated the design of its evaporator systems and believes that they do not meet the requirements of Category 1, 2 or 3 equipment.
It should be stressed here that we firmly believe this to also be true of many other pieces of equipment within the lab environment. For example, there are usually personal computers within a laboratory. These similarly could not be considered to meet Category 1, 2 or 3 requirements.
2. Environment Within the Evaporator