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Using Radio Equipment Safely in ATEX Zones

date Released On 2nd Jul 2019

Two Way Radios in ATEX Zones - A Guide to Safe Use

Radio systems are an essential communications tool in many working environments, but in areas where electrical sparks or heat could ignite an explosion,  it's not always safe to operate standard radio equipment.

The good news is that two way radio systems can be operated completely safely in potentially hazardous areas when the equipment complies with rigorous standards set out by the ATEX Directive

What does ATEX stand for?

ATEX stands for Atmospheres Explosibles. The ATEX Directive 94/9/EC was introduced by the European Union in 2003 and it seeks to ensure that intrinsically safe equipment and systems, including ATEX approved two way radios, are used by workers in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Intrinsically safe?

“Intrinsically safe” is an expression you might hear frequently when applied to the use of electrical equipment in hazardous environments. In the case of two way radios, it means the device is safe to use where the presence of a spark, heat or flame could create a safety hazard.

Intrinsically safe, ATEX-approved radios are manufactured to very stringent requirements to reduce or eliminate the risk of generating even the tiniest spark. They must also limit the heat produced by the device. From the radio-casing to the batteries they use, everything is constructed with safety in mind.

Not all two way radios meet ATEX standards, though many leading manufacturers have ATEX-approved radios in their range, including Motorola, Hytera and Icom.  ATEX digital radios usually contain many of the enhanced features you’d expect from modern radios.

What does ATEX approved mean?

Radio equipment intended for use in a potentially hazardous environment must be fully tested to meet the ATEX Directive standards, and approved to be intrinsically safe. This ensures that it won't cause a spark or reach a high temperature, which could ignite in an explosive atmosphere. 

Environments that may require ATEX-approved two way radios

There are many situations in which radios are critical to effective operations, yet standard two way radios could make a hazardous environment even more dangerous.

  • emergency scenes attended by fire, ambulance and police services
  • oil rigs & refineries
  • gas mains
  • coal mines
  • chemical plants
  • engine rooms
  • factories
  • airports
  • timber sawmill

Intrinsically safe, ATEX-approved radios, as well as accessories such as microphones and headsets, are essential for safe communication in these environments and many others.

ATEX zones

Hazardous areas may differ as to the frequency and duration of risk present in the form of flammable gases or dust materials. Different ATEX zones therefore denote the type and level of risk in an area. ATEX approved radio equipment must comply with the ATEX zone in which it is intended for use, and be documented appropriately, too. The ATEX zones and their definitions are:

For gases/vapours and dust

  • Zone 0 (for gases/vapours) or Zone 20 (for dust) 
    • An area in which an explosive mixture is continuously present or present for long periods. Radio equipment designed to be used safely in this this zone offfers a very high level of protection. 
  • Zone 1 (for gases/vapours) or Zone 21 (for dust)
    • An area in which an explosive mixture is likely to occur in normal operation. Intrinsically safe radios used in this zone offer a high level of protection.
  • Zone 2 (for gases/vapours) or Zone 22 (for dust)
    • An area in which an explosive mixture is not likely to occur in normal operation and if it occurs it will exist only for a short time. Devices approved for use in this zone offer a normal level of protection. 

Temperature classes

ATEX compliant radios are primarily recognised by their deployment zone, but Temperature classes, consisting of 6 categories (T1 to T6), denote the heat levels in which a product may be used.

Browse the full range of Atex-approved equipment from RadioTrader 

We stock leading brands of ATEX radio equipment, such as Motorola, Icom and Hytera. 

At RadioTrader, you can expect expert advice for choosing, buying and installing ATEX radio systems in your business or organisation.

Call us on 0151 676 2888 or enquire using our contact form for more information.

Tags: ATEX Two Way Radios, Intrinsically Safe Radios

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