The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) place duties on employers to eliminate or control the risks from explosive atmospheres in the workplace.
Explosive atmospheres can be caused by flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. If there is enough of the substance, mixed with air, then all it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion. Many workplaces may contain, or have activities that produce, explosive or potentially explosive atmospheres (e.g. chemical industries, waste dump areas, wood processing industries, food industries, pharmaceutical industries, refineries (oil and gas), recycling industries…)
The ATEX directive consists of two EU directives describing what equipment and work space is allowed in an environment with an explosive atmosphere. ATEX derives its name from the French title of the 94/9/EC directive: Appareils destinés à être utilisés en ATmosphères EXplosibles.