Similarities between IEC Ex & ATEX Approval
Under the IEC 60079 series, IEC Ex and ATEX certificates cover the approval of products and equipment to the same IEC based standards, assuming that the products and equipment have been approved to the latest standards.
In some countries of the world it is considered that IEC Ex certification, which complies with the ISO 5 system, is a superior form of approval, and that ATEX is not regarded in the same light, as it involves "self certification". It is true to say that under the ATEX 94/9/EC Directive it is possible for manufacturers to have Category 3 (Zone 2) apparatus certified when the type testing was not carried out, and the corresponding test reports were not written by an independent third party Ex Notified Body. In such cases however, a third party Ex Notified Body is still required to provide the ATEX Certificate of Conformity, but the responsibility for the safety of the product rests entirely with the manufacturer.
Many manufacturers choose to have type tests conducted by the Ex Notified Body, so it is not possible to generalise and say that all Category 3, Zone 2 products certified under the requirements of the ATEX 94/9/Ec directive are "self certified". Furthermore, this method of certification cannot be applied to Category 1 (Zone 0) or Category 2 (Zone 1) apparatus. The method of certification allowed for Zone 2 (Category 3) apparatus is not a new idea, this has been the case before the ATEX directive became a compulsory force in the EC, but because the practice was already in existence for quite some time, and without any real difficulties being experienced, this was subsequently included within the parameters of ATEX.