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Does My Industrial Vacuum Cleaner Need to Be ATEX Certified?

Industrial facilities all have different safety requirements that they are expected to follow. The right safety precautions and cleaning methods are essential for creating safe, clean facilities. 

Part of following these requirements is choosing the right equipment and, more specifically, choosing certified equipment. Certified equipment has met the standards necessary to be sold and used by industrial facilities in the country. 

While there are several certifications that you will see on equipment, today we want to talk about ATEX certification: what is it and will it work for your facility? 

What Is ATEX Certification? Why Is It Important?

ATEX, short for “atomosphères explosibles,” is a European Union directive from the European Committee for Standardization. The directive covers the regulations for equipment and protective systems that are made for use in potentially explosive atmospheres within Europe. 

According to the European Committee for Standardization, an explosive atmosphere can be caused by things such as flammable gasses, mists, vapors or combustible dust. ATEX certification refers to the process of testing equipment and systems to ensure that they are safe for use within industrial environments. Vacuums are one type of equipment that is required by EU law to be ATEX certified. 

ATEX certification requirements are similar to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements in the United States. Products are sent to a third-party organization called a “Notified Body” for certification. 

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Once a product has been ATEX certified, it is branded with an “Ex” symbol. This means that the product has passed the required tests, and it is safe for use in explosive atmospheres.

Does It Apply to the U.S.? What Does It Mean for Industrial Vacuums?

Although ATEX certification requirements are very similar to those of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and OSHA, ATEX is not a U.S. standard. ATEX applies specifically to the countries within the European Union and nowhere else. Therefore, U.S.-based facilities are required to have equipment that meets OSHA and NFPA requirements. 

More specifically, equipment has to go through the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) — a third-party organization created and recognized by OSHA — for evaluating, testing and approving equipment for use. The U.S. certification process is based on the safety standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in conjunction with OSHA and NFPA. It is required by U.S. law for all electrical equipment, both consumer and industrial. 

Although ATEX certification is not officially recognized by U. S. standards, that doesn’t mean manufacturers cannot seek it out in addition to U.S. certifications. While ATEX is very similar to what the U.S. requires, offering products that have not only U.S. certifications but EU certifications as well shows a company’s commitment to creating quality products. It will build additional trust between facility managers and owners and the company whose products they are considering. 

When there is the option of a certified ATEX vacuum cleaner that also meets OSHA and NFPA legal requirements, facility owners and managers are more likely to choose that option to ensure they are buying the safest and best quality equipment possible.

Benefits of ATEX Certified Vacuums

Although the ATEX directive is different from OSHA, it is equally as strict since many of the requirements are similar. For example, ATEX directives 99/92/EC and 94/9/EC, or ATEX 137 and 95, outline the same requirements as NFPA 652, the Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust. Because of these similarities, American manufacturers of industrial vacuums and other equipment can submit their products for ATEX certification. 

By choosing to have an ATEX certified vacuum cleaner, American facilities will have extra assurance that the vacuum is safe not only by U.S. standards, but also by EU standards. It also shows a deeper dedication from companies to create safe and reliable products for industrial facilities.

Who Needs an ATEX Certified Vacuum?

It is vital to stress that in the U.S., a certified ATEX vacuum cleaner also needs to meet the certifications required by OSHA and NFPA. An ATEX vacuum cleaner is ideal for facilities with explosive atmospheres; that is, facilities that contain dust that is flammable when combined with heat or an ignition source, such as a spark, in an enclosed space.

(Click here to read more about combustible dust explosions and how to prevent them.)

Facilities that should consider ATEX certified products include petroleum plants, chemical manufacturers, and facilities that deal with combustible dust, like powder, agricultural, food, pharmaceutical, pesticide, rubber, plastic, textiles, chemical, recycling, coal-fired power, wood and more.

Choosing an ATEX Certified Vacuum

Not all industrial vacuums in the U.S. have earned ATEX certification. HafcoVac is a line of industrial vacuums are all proudly made in the USA, and feature NRTL approval, NFPA compliance and ATEX certification. They also abide by OSHA’s Housekeeping Guidelines, which help satisfy both NFPA and NRTL requirements.

HafcoVac has many different models that are all ATEX certified and can serve in a wide range of facilities. HafcoVac models include Explosion-Proof Vacuums, Anti-Static-Vacuums and Pneumatic Vacuums. Each of these models is powered by compressed air already available in the facility, which means there are no moving parts and no risk of arching, friction or sparking that can lead to fire or combustion within an explosive atmosphere. 

While U.S.-based agencies such as OSHA do not formally recognize ATEX as an official standard, it is still very similar to OSHA standards covering material handling in hazardous environments. HafcoVac is dedicated to creating high-quality products and having them thoroughly tested for various markets. 

The ATEX certification can provide facility owners and managers with an added sense of security, as a certified ATEX vacuum cleaner has gone through more testing than an industrial vacuum that only has NFPA and OSHA certification. HafcoVac is a U.S.-based company that is dedicated to providing the safest and most reliable industrial vacuums for all types of facilities. 

For more information on ATEX certified industrial vacuums, contact an expert at HafcoVac today.