The ATEX directive derives its name from Atmosphères Explosives – literally an “explosive atmosphere” – and is designed to protect employees from potential explosions through the use of specially-designed equipment and various measures taken to limit the risks involved with working in this atmosphere. It is an EU requirement that employers take these steps in industries including petrochemical, oil, mining and so on, with harsh legal steps taken against those who fail to comply.
Each employer has to classify hazardous areas as different zones and ensure that the equipment they use complies with the requirements for the relevant zone. For instance, Zone 1 relates to an area that is at a high level of risk from explosions caused by gases in normal operation, whereas Zone 0 also relates to gases but is slightly less high-risk. This is simply an area where an explosive mixture is either continuously present or present for long period of time.
Because of the high risk associated with working in these areas, the equipment used in them needs to be manufactured with safety as a top priority. Those working in Zone 1 need computer equipment, including PCs, terminals and monitors, which are designed specifically for use in that particular zone. While some companies offer mass-produced products, many offer a bespoke service where designers look at the functions the equipment is required to complete and the specific area in which it is going to be used and create a unique product to fit those requirements, ensuring they comply with the ATEX directive.
However, that’s not to say that the options that are not bespoke are no good and won’t fit in with what you need.
They are all highly customisable so that they can fit in anywhere, regardless of the industry or the workplace. For instance, the Zone 1 PC made by iSiS-Ex runs with any operating system, comes with a range of stand and mounting options (as well as keyboard and interface configurations) and is configurable with fibre-optic, Cat5 or WiFi along with many more features. If you’re unsure of whether a certain piece will fit in with your requirements, then call the manufacturer’s customer service team, who should be able to help.
These pieces cost a lot to buy and they want to make sure you’re happy with your purchase so they don’t have to refund your money! You may want to try out the equipment before buying it, and this won’t be possible with all manufacturers, though some may have a showroom or premises where you can see how big it is (sometimes you don’t realise the size of something based purely on its specifications and a picture) and view all of its possible configurations.
Whether you need an Atex PC or a Zone 2 keyboard for your hazardous areas, you should be able to find a suitable product that’s as tough as anyone who works in one of these areas needs to be.
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