Process plants may contain hazardous areas where explosive atmospheres are present. Equipment applied in these areas has to be designed and approved to cover applicable safety requirements. This document has been produced by the ESA and provides a comparison of the IECEx and ATEX standards. Legislation and regulations designed to mitigate this risk are similar but are not interchangeable and application depends on geographical location and local safety regulations.
In practice the technical/ quality assurance requirements for ATEX & IECEx are identical but the methodology and route of demonstrating compliance are different.
The leading directive in the EU is ATEX, as it contains general requirements for products in the EU, and its application is legally binding across the EU. As such, IECEx certification cannot be applied as a replacement for these known and recognized conformity assessment procedures and it remains a voluntary system.
The full document can be requested by contacting the ESA on firstname.lastname@example.org.