ATEX debate needs positive voice

Dear Editor,

I am glad that your journal has recognised the potential impact of ATEX, as in your July issue (News, Books, and Analysis).

At the Electrical Equipment Certification Service (EECS), we have been working since 1989 to prepare the way and make the transition as easy as possible for our customers. With a sensible and co-operative approach within the UK and at the European level, the difficulties which were raised at the BEAMA seminar can be minimised or avoided altogether.

However, I would like to make some comments and corrections. At the conference, I certainly made a plea for Europe not to erect barriers with the rest of the world. Many of our BASEEFA and MECS customers have sizeable export business outside Europe. Their needs will be best served if, in the implementation of the ATEX Directive, we avoid differences between the CENELEC and IEC standards.

However, I would like to make it clear that at the beginning of my presentation I said that my views were those of a certifier, and not representative of central HSE policy.

ATEX is now law and needs to applied in a way that helps rather than hinders European industry. Perhaps I could clarify my comment about not withdrawing certificates which are related to those issued under the ‘old’ explosive atmospheres Directives.

These certificates will cease to be valid in the European Union after June 30th 2003 because the Directives will then be repealed. However, many users find that certificates are accepted in markets outside the EU and it is not our wish to hinder their efforts.

Quite how the certificates will be sustained once their underpinning legislation has disappeared, we will need to work out. But I would prefer to accept a ‘can do’ attitude than add to present worries.

After all, the products to which the certificates relate would still be complying with the standards to which we assessed and tested them, particularly if they are still covered by our Conformity Assurance Programme of periodic manufacturing audits.

The statement that HSE will not withdraw products in 2003 suggests that this might have been a possibility. This is not the case. It is the certificates for the products whose validity within the EU will lapse after 30 June 2003 as explained above.

Ian Cleare, EECS, Health and Safety Executive, Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire.

Ed. Our apologies for quoting you as Ian St Claire.