Explosion protection prevents explosions from being generated/ignited in hazardous areas, i.e. areas in which an explosive air and gas or air and dust mixture is present. The applicable specifications vary by region:
- IEC standards apply identically and are applied or implemented by the regional regulators (e.g. Europe).
- IEC standards apply with national exceptions and are applied or implemented by regional regulators (e.g. North America, Eurasian Customs Union, China).
- IEC standards apply directly and there are no regional regulations regarding their application or implementation (e.g. IECEx).
In Europe, the European directives issued by the European Union apply. These must be written into national law by all member states. For explosion protection, this refers to directives 2014/34/EU (ATEX directive for manufacturers of devices) and directive 1999/92/EC (for operators of Ex systems). The resulting national laws must be complied with.
One requirement that operators of systems (devices) in hazardous areas must comply with is that only devices for which the manufacturer has created an EU declaration of conformity can be used in these areas. This must also make clear which hazardous areas (zones) these devices can be used in. The basis of this EU declaration of conformity is often, depending on the module for assessing conformity, a certificate issued by an independent test body. These certificates are based on a type examination by the test body using the applicable standards, which are also listed in the EU type examination certificate.
EN standards must be converted to national standards as per the Treaty signed by the European member states. This ensures that the same standards apply throughout the entire European Union and European free trade area, thereby ensuring that the requirements placed on products are the same.
German standards are designated as DIN EN IEC standards and are translations of the EN IEC standards.
Since hazardous areas have the same physical and chemical properties regardless of their location, the aim is to ensure that requirements are consistent around the world. This is why the standards are created as IEC standards at IEC level.
Ex standards are created in the IEC TC 31 by the responsible committees. These are given to the national mirror committees to be handled. These national mirror committees are responsible for national standards.
The following table gives the names of the committees and shows the relationships between them:
|IEC TC 31, Equipment for explosive atmospheres||CENELEC TC 31, Electrical apparatus for potentially explosive atmospheres||
DKE K 241, |
Schlagwetter- und explosionsgeschützte elektrische Betriebsmittel
|IEC SC 31 G, Intrinsically-safe apparatus||CENELEC TC 31, Electrical apparatus for potentially explosive atmospheres||
DKE K 241, |
Schlagwetter- und explosionsgeschützte elektrische Betriebsmittel
|IEC SC 31 J, Classification of hazardous areas and installation requirements||CENELEC TC 31, Electrical apparatus for potentially explosive atmospheres||
DKE K 235, |
Errichten elektrischer Anlagen in explosionsgefährdeten Bereichen
|IEC SC 31 M, Non-electrical equipment and protective systems for explosive atmospheres||CEN/TC 305, Potentially explosive atmospheres - Explosion prevention and protection||
DIN NASG NA 095-02: |
Normenausschuss Sicherheits-technische Grundsätze im DIN, Fachbereich „Brand- und Explosions-schutz
DKE: Deutsche Kommission Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik im DIN und VDE (German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE)
AK: Arbeitskreis (Working group)
NASG: Normenausschuss Sicherheitstechnische Grundsätze (Safety Design Principles Standards Committee) within the DIN
CLC: Shortened form of CENELEC
The table below shows an example of some IEC standards and which national standardisation committee is responsible for the DIN standards. A comprehensive table can be found on the R. STAHL website at Standardisation work of the IEC TC 31.
|Title of standard||DIN/DKE|
|60079-0, Explosive atmospheres - Part 0: Equipment - General requirements||DKE/AK 241.0.4, Allgemeine Bestimmungen (General requirements), DIN EN IEC 60079-0, Explosionsgefährdete Bereiche – Teil 0: Betriebsmittel – Allgemeine Anforderungen (Explosive atmospheres - Part 0: Equipment - General requirements)|
|60079-1, Explosive atmospheres - Part 1: Equipment protection by flameproof enclosures "d"||DKE/AK 241.0.2, Druckfeste Kapselung (Flameproof enclosure) DIN EN IEC 60079-1, Explosionsgefährdete Bereiche – Teil 1: Geräteschutz durch druckfeste Kapselung "d" (Explosive atmospheres - Part 1: Equipment protection by flameproof enclosure "d")|
|80079-34: Explosive atmospheres - Application of quality systems for electrical and non-electrical equipment||NASG NA 095-02-06, DIN EN ISO/IEC 80079-34, Explosionsgefährdete Bereiche – Teil 34: Anwendung von Qualitätsmanagementsystemen für die Herstellung von Ex-Produkten (Explosive atmospheres – Part 34: Use of quality management systems in the manufacture of Ex products)|
|80079-36: Explosive atmospheres - Part 36: Non-electrical equipment for explosive atmospheres - Basic method and requirements||NASG NA 095-02-02 DIN EN ISO 80079-36, Explosionsfähige Atmosphären – Teil 36: Nicht-elektrische Geräte für den Einsatz in explosionsfähigen Atmosphären - Grundlagen und Anforderungen (Explosive atmospheres – Part 36: Non-electrical devices for use in explosive atmospheres - Principles and requirements)|
As well as these teams, which are assigned directly to the standards, there are also "horizontal" working groups. The topics handled by these teams encompass multiple standards. A detailed version of this table can also be found on the R. STAHL website at Standardisation work of the IEC TC 31.
The standards are all handled in national committees.
The process followed by these committees to create a standard is:
National drafts are collected and given to the IEC committee. The committee discusses all national submissions; depending on the result of these discussions, the submissions may or may not be included in the next suggested standard. This suggestion from the IEC committee is then passed on again to the national committees for discussion. After another discussion by the national committee, the drafts are once again given to the IEC committee. After multiple "rounds" of this process, the IEC standard is then eventually distributed to the national members, who agree whether or not to accept this standard. Two thirds of the votes must be positive in order for a standard to be accepted. Technical changes can be made while a standard is in the draft phase.
It is clear from this that active involvement offers the chance to present change requests in person and favour desired changes. Requests can be made to the DKE or DIN to be involved in the corresponding national committees. Involvement in the IEC committees requires involvement in the national committees, since reports to the IEC committees can only be sent by the national committees.
The precise life cycle of a standard can be seen on the R. STAHL website at Creating and further developing a standard.
As well as the opportunity to be involved in these committees, suggestions can be submitted at the following link.
The current status of the standards for Hazardous Locations might be found on the following link Status of Ex Standards.
The committees responsible for hazardous areas are based at the DIN for non-electrical standards and at the DKE for electrical standards. At the work level (the working committees (AAs) at DIN and the working groups (AKs) at DKE), each committee is made up of people, not institutions. Each person involved brings their own expertise to the table and, in doing so, naturally represents the opinions and interests of the institution to which they belong. Engagement at this level therefore offers the opportunity for direct involvement in discussions on standards and definition of the national standpoint. For this process, the individual AAs or AKs should strive to find members from all relevant groups and to combine all members' opinions using consensus-based methods. There are no costs associated with being involved in the DKE; to work with the DIN, members must be registered members of the institutions they represent.
The department responsible for these working committees at the DIN is specialist department 2 "Fire and explosion protection" within the NASG "Safety Design Principles Standards Committee". At the DKE, for instance, the committee K 241 "Schlagwetter- und explosionsgeschützte elektrische Betriebsmittel" (Firedamp protected and explosion-protected electrical equipment) is responsible for Ex standards for electrical devices. Members of both specialist department 2 at the NASG and DKE K 241 are nominated by associations. As a result, DKE K 241, for instance, is made up of 12 members, as well as the chairperson and deputy chairperson.
The committee is therefore made up of the following members, whose names cannot be given here for data protection reasons:
6 manufacturers, nominated by the ZVEI Ex working group (ZVEI: Zentralverband der Elektrotechnik- und Elektroindustrie [Central Association for Electrotechnology and the Electronics Industry])
3 operators, nominated by NAMUR working group 4.7 (NAMUR: User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries)
2 test bodies, nominated by EK 4 (EK 4: Experience Exchange Group (EK) 4 "Explosion protection" at the Zentralstelle der Länder für Sicherheitstechnik (ZLS) [Central Office of the Federal States for Safety Engineering]) and
1 authority, representing market surveillance
The international work level corresponds to the national level. At this level, persons involved are personally sent by their respective institution, with approval from the corresponding national working committee. In Germany at least, each international committee has a national mirror committee.
The designations of the committees, e.g. at the IEC, are as follows:
AG (Advisory Group):
Works on a specific, defined horizontal topic and provides recommendations
PT (Project Team):
Creates the first version of a standard or Technical Specification (TS)
MT (Maintenance Team):
Maintains and creates the subsequent versions of one or more standards or TSs
WG (Working Group):
Works on a specific, defined horizontal topic, creates suggestions and can also perform the task of an MT
ahG (ad-hoc Group):
Not a permanent group – works on a specific, defined horizontal topic and creates suggestions within a year
Each standardisation project or topic is discussed and handled within the committees. The consensus-based principle applies in these committees too. Decisions are only made at plenary meetings. The plenary meeting of IEC TC 31 is held annually, usually in October. The members at the plenary meeting, or officially at the TC or SC, however, are not persons or institutions, but the corresponding member states. The DKE K 241 represents Germany's national interests at the TC 31. The K 241 determines the delegates for the plenary meeting. The same applies for the plenary meeting of CENELEC TC 31. Accordingly, the documents distributed by CENELEC or IEC may only be annotated by the DKE. The comments are discussed and created in the individual national working committees. This brings the standardisation work process full circle.
Even among experts, you often hear talk of "IECEx standards". However, this is not correct. As mentioned in this document, IECEx is not responsible for developing standards for hazardous areas – this is the ob of the IEC TC 31 committees. The IECEx system, in contrast, is a conformity assessment system that verifies and certifies the requirements of IEC standards for devices, services and persons in hazardous areas. This means that although IECEx uses IEC standards a great deal and in great detail, IECEx is not directly involved in their development.
IEC Technical Committee (TC) 31, tasked with developing a global conformity assessment system for explosion-protected products
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