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In the UK, the transition from ATEX Directive 94/9/EC to the new ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU did not go as expected.  Despite having cleared all the technical hurdles some time earlier, an administrative delay meant that no UK bodies had achieved notified status by 20 April, the first day of applicability for the new Directive. This meant delays in certification, as with no Notified Bodies it was not possible to issue new certificates in the UK.

However, full marks are due to BIS for ensuring that there was minimum delay at the conclusion of the process. At SGS UK Ltd we received confirmation of our Notified Body status on May 28. Despite these delays, our teams were able to catch up and issue certifications promptly during the week commencing 30 May.

I assume that all other UK bodies received their notifications at similar times as, when I checked the NANDO database on Monday 30 May, all were present and correct.

Access to the NANDO database for ATEX and an explanation of NANDO is available on the European Commission’s web site here.

Developments at IECEx

As part of the May series of meetings of IECEx, I chaired the first meeting of the new Service Facility Certification Committee.  The new committee responds directly to the IECEx Management Committee and is responsible for overseeing the operation of both the established “Repair Workshop” certification scheme (related to IEC 60079-19), and the developing certification schemes related to the other “user” standards (IEC 60079-10, -14 and -17).

At this meeting, we concentrated on aspects related to inspection and maintenance related to Part 17 of the standard, but also bringing in the inspection aspects of Part 14.

It had been a decision of the IEC standards committees to separate out the inspection requirements for new installations (now in Part 14) from the general inspection activity controlled by Part 17.  However, as the skills required for both activities are very much the same, we decided to re-combine the aspects when it came to the certification of contractors offering services in these areas.

It is true that there are critical differences in the activities, but it would be unusual for a company to offer one and not the other.  We await confirmation from the IECEx Management Committee at its meeting in September in South Africa that it is happy for us to adopt this approach.

Although the detailed inspection of a new installation is probably more thorough than any inspection of an existing installation, the required knowledge base is likely to be smaller.  Inspection of existing installations requires a knowledge of all the installation standards and equipment standards that have been applicable since the installation was first commissioned. In the UK, this can mean a need to understand the critical differences between BS 229, BS 4683-2, EN 50018 and IEC 60079-1 flameproof equipment, as well as the developing installation standards over the same period.

It is, of course, a tribute to the robustness of the BS 229 equipment that so much of it is still in use over 45 years since the standard was superseded, but the inspection requirements are radically different in detail, if not in principle.

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world.

About SGS Baseefa

SGS UK's Technical Manager RON SINCLAIR is chairman of BSI Committee EXL/31, responsible for the UK input to both European and International standards for Electrical Equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. He is chairman of Cenelec TC31 and also responsible for representing electrical standardisation interests at the European Commission’s ATEX Standing Committee. Until 2014, he chaired ExTAG, the Test and Assessment Group of the IECEx International Certification Scheme and from 2016 he has taken over chairmanship of the IECEx Service Facility Certification Committee. Ron was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Year Honours List for services to Certification and Standardisation.