ATEX Worker Directive 99/92/EC/DSEAR


  • The directive aims to improve the health and safety of workers at risk from explosions of flammable substances mixed with air such as fuels, solvents and powder.
  • It applies to employers and self-employed persons with workplaces potentially containing explosive atmospheres.
  • It describes the employers’ obligations, including the duty to minimize explosion risks and perform an explosion risk assessment.
  • The 99/92/EC and the ATEX (2014/34/EU) Directives are linked:
    • The 99/92/EC Directive explains how to select the right Group and Category of equipment for different explosive atmospheres;
    • The ATEX 2014/34/EU details the requirements and certification procedures for new equipment of different categories.
  • In the UK, Directive 99/92/EC is implemented by DSEAR.
  • 99/92/EC does not require the use of the CE marking, but the areas where an explosive atmosphere might be present have to be identified with the following warning sign:


Directive 1999/92/EC Of The European Parliament and of The Council of 16 December 1999 on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres (15th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC)


To fulfil the objectives of Article 153 of the EU Treaty to improve health, safety and working conditions for workers potentially at risk from explosive atmosphere

Field of Application and Exclusions

The 99/92/EC Directive applies to employers and premises where workers might be at risk from explosive atmospheres, defined in the directive as: “a mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.”


The Directive does not apply to:

  • medical treatment areas
  • the use of gas appliances that comply with the Gas Appliances Directive
  • the manufacture, handling, use, storage and transport of explosives or chemically unstable substancess
  • mineral-extracting industries already covered by directives on onshore and offshore boreholes and wells (92/91/EEC), underground mining (92/104/EEC) and quarrying
  • Transport of dangerous goods by land, water and air covered by existing international agreements pre-dating the directive (e.g. ADN, ADR, ICAO, IMO, RID), Means of transport intended for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere are not excluded.

Explosion prevention and mitigation: The employer must follow the principles of integration described on the Explosion Risk assessment web page to minimize the risk of explosions and the effects of unavoidable explosions.

Explosion Risk assessment: The employer must assess explosion risks and prepare and keep up to date an Explosion Protection Document. With this document the employer demonstrates that a Hazardous Area Classification has been done, that the Explosion Risk has been assessed and that organizational and technical measures are in place to protect the workers. Organizational measures include training for the workers, written working instructions and Permits To Work. Technical measures include ignition protection of equipment, in particular according to the ATEX equipment directive. Other measures include reliable ventilation to dilute the explosive atmosphere to a safe concentration, suppression systems, etc.

Directive History and Implementation Date

The 99/92/EC Directive was first published on the 16/12/1999.

Its transposition into European National laws had to be completed by the 30/06/2003, when the directive came into force. Any new or modified workplaces and equipment had to comply from then. Workplaces with explosive atmospheres already in use before 2003, had to comply no later than 30/6/2006.

In the UK, The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 SI 2002/2776 (DSEAR) implements the directive. This also implements a few explosion protection requirements of The Chemical Agents Directive (98/24/EC) but not its requirements for other hazards such as toxicity and fire.

Other EU member states have their own National Implementing Measures.

Enforcement and Penalties

Enforcement is a national matter. Each member state has its own enforcement authorities and methods and penalties.

In the UK the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has the responsibility for the enforcement of the Directive. They may serve three types of notices as the outcome of a site inspection:

  • A prohibition notice tells the duty holder to stop an activity immediately.
  • An improvement notice specifies remedial action and gives the duty holder a date by which they must complete the action.
  • A Crown notice is issued under the same circumstances that would justify a statutory prohibition or improvement notice, but is only served on duty holders in Crown organisations such as government departments.
  • Maximum penalties for offences committed under the Health and Safety at work act and supporting legislation are unlimited fines and 2 years imprisonment.

1) DSEAR text at HMSO.

2) The Europa Website has a general page for ATEX including information on Directive 1999/92/EC.

3)HSE Pages

Further Advice

For further advice specific to your products, please contact us and we will be pleased to discuss your needs. Our consultancy services regarding the application of the 99/92/EC Directive and of the DSEAR Regulations include:

  • training for Health and Safety Managers and engineers
  • hazardous area classifications (including CFD)
  • assessment of the explosion risk of workplaces
  • issuing and updates of the Explosion Protection Document
  • consultancy regarding the technical and organizational measures required where an explosion risk is present
dsear.txt · Last modified: 2017/11/24 08:58 (external edit)
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