Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres

To ensure the free movement of equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmospheres by harmonizing the national provisions.

European Parliament and Council Directive 94/9/EC of 23 March 1994 on the forthcoming legislation for Member States on protective devices and systems for use in potentially explosive atmospheres [Official Journal L 100 of 19.04.1994].


The Directive applies to electrical and non-electrical protective devices and systems (surface and mining equipment) used in potentially explosive atmospheres and to items of equipment for use outside potentially explosive atmospheres but which impinge upon devices that are present in any such atmospheres.

The Directive does not apply to:

  • medical devices,
  • protective devices and systems used on premises where potentially explosive or chemically unstable substances are stored,
  • seagoing ships and mobile offshore units,
  • certain means of transport.

Protective devices and systems must meet the essential safety and health requirements. These are divided up into three categories:

  • common requirements concerning protective devices and systems,
  • additional requirements applying to devices which can trigger an explosion,
  • additional requirements for protective systems.

The procedures for obtaining the CE conformity marking depend upon the device and level of safety provided. The Directive sets out in detail the procedures to be followed with regard to the various categories of protective devices and systems used in potentially explosive atmospheres. These devices are typified by a protection-level scale which determines the type of procedure to be followed.

Certain procedures for the assessment and checking of protective devices and systems are carried out by a notified body; a list of these is published in the Official Journal of European Union together with their identification numbers and the tasks for which they have been notified. Moreover, procedures ranging from unit verification to internal production control by manufacturers are laid down for well-defined conformity categories.

The CE conformity marking must be affixed to equipment in a visible manner, together with the identification number of the notified body where the latter is involved in the production control stage. Any other marking may be affixed to equipment provided that the visibility and legibility of the CE marking are not thereby reduced.

Equipment and protective systems complying with the Directive and bearing the CE conformity marking are deemed to be able to move freely throughout the European market. However, they may be withdrawn from the market if they adversely affect human or animal health or property.

For a transitional period ending on 30 June 2003, Member States will allow the placing on the market and bringing into service of equipment conforming to the provisions in force on their territory on 23 March 1994.

With effect from 1 July 2003 this Directive repeals:

  • Council Directive 76/177/EEC (electrical equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres),
  • Council Directive 79/196/EEC (electrical equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres employing certain types of protection),
  • Council Directive 82/130/EEC (electrical equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres in mines susceptible to firedamp).
Act Date
of entry into force
Final date for implementation in the Member States
Directive 94/9/EC 09.05.1994 01.03.1996


Directive 2006/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to risks arising from

Physical agents (artificial optical radiation)

(19th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC).

This Directive is part of a “package” of four Directives regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents: noise, vibration, electromagnetic fields and optical radiation.

This is a Directive under framework Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.

Risks of optical radiation and scope

The exposure of workers to artificial optical radiation *, laser *, laser radiation * and non-coherent radiation * can have chronic adverse effects on the eyes and skin.

This Directive reduces the level of exposure to this radiation firstly by the introduction of preventive measures in the design of workstations, in order to reduce the risks at source. It also fixes exposure limit values for workers exposed to non-coherent radiation and laser radiation (Annex 2).

Obligations of employers

  • Assessment of the level of radiation.
    Firstly, the employer assesses or measures the levels of optical radiation to which employees are exposed so that they can be reduced if they exceed the applicable limits. He measures them on the basis of the standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Commission on Illumination (CEI) and the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) or, failing that, using available national or international science-based guidelines.
  • Reduction of the risks.
    Secondly, the employer must reduce the level of radiation if the assessment indicates any possibility that the exposure limit values have been exceeded, for example by choosing a different material or limiting the duration of exposure.
  • Worker information and training.
    The workers or their representatives receive the necessary information and training, for example in the use of protective equipment.
  • Consultation and participation of workers.
    Employers must consult workers or their representatives in advance with regard to the protection of the safety and health of workers. They may propose measures to improve this protection and even enlist the competent authorities if they consider that the health protection offered by the employer is not adequate (in accordance with framework Directive 89/391/EEC).

Health surveillance

The health of workers is subject to surveillance carried out by a doctor, as is any risk arising from exposure to optical radiation, in accordance with the relevant national legislation.

Health records are made for each worker and updated after each health check. On request, individual workers may have access to their own personal health records.

Harmful effects and/or exceeding of limit values

In the event of exposure exceeding the limit values, a medical examination is automatically made available to the workers. If the limit values have been exceeded and/or the workers have suffered harmful effects to their health:

  • the worker is informed by the doctor or qualified person of the results relating to him and any significant findings;
  • the employer reviews the risk assessment and the measures taken, implements the measures recommended by the competent persons and establishes a continuous surveillance system.


The Member States must provide for appropriate penalties if the national provisions adopted pursuant to the Directive have been infringed.


Every five years, the Member States provide the Commission with a report on the practical implementation of this Directive, including the opinions of the social partners.

Every five years, the Commission informs the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work of its assessment of these reports.

Key terms used in the act
·         Optical radiation: any electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range between 100 nm and 1 mm.
The spectrum of optical radiation is divided into ultraviolet radiation (UVA, UVB and UVC), visible radiation and infrared radiation.

·         Laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation): any device which can produce or amplify electromagnetic radiation in the optical radiation wavelength range primarily by the process of controlled stimulated emission.

·         Laser radiation: optical radiation from a laser.

·         Non-coherent radiation: any optical radiation other than laser radiation.



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