Directives, Standards and Regulations

The requirements for electrical equipment for hazardous locations are multi-layered: National and international determinations, guidelines and standards must be complied with to achieve the highest possible level of safety. We give you an overview of the most important regulations and recommendations, such as the ATEX directive.

All equipment brought into the European Union, must fulfill the requirements of the unified ATEX directive. The abbreviation ATEX is derived from the French term "ATmosphère EXplosive." But what, precisely, is the ATEX directive? The abbreviation ATEX is derived from the French: “ATmosphère EXplosive.”

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ATEX – European Guideline, Recognized Worldwide

The ATEX directive applies to all products used in hazardous locations and is mandatory for all EC member states. It includes the ATEX product directive 94/9/EC (ATEX 95) and the ATEX operating directive 1999/92/EG (ATEX 137). The ATEX Directive was formulated by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry, the EC member states, European industry, the CEN and CENELEC and the notified bodies such as BAM, PTBand TÜV.

The product guideline is directed at manufacturers and regulates the placing of products that will be used in areas subject to explosion on the market. The goal of this guideline is to protect people who work in areas subject to explosion or who linger there. The basic health and safety requirements must be adhered to by the manufacturer and proven through the conformity assessment process with EC declaration of conformity and CE mark. For the operating guideline 1999/92/EC, by contrast, the focus is on the employees who could be endangered by the potentially-explosive atmosphere. The guideline contains important safety requirements and protective measures, which the operator or employer must implement.

IECEx – Worldwide Free Goods Traffic

IECEx is an international process for the certification of resources that are used in areas subject to explosion. The goal of the IECEx scheme is the harmonization of national and international Ex standards. Thus global trade in resources for applications subject to explosion is simplified without having to forego the high safety level of the ATEX guideline. The resources certified according to IECEx are recognized by the international uniform standards, inspections, and test symbols. Due to increasing globalization, certifications according to IECEx are becoming ever more appealing.


In North America, technologies and systems have developed in the area of explosion protection for electrical equipment and system that deviates significantly from the IEC technology. In the USA, the NEC applies; in Canada the CEC. Among other things, the differences are in the division of the explosive areas, the construction of the resources, and the installation of the electrical systems. For electrical equipment and systems used in hazardous locations, the National Electric Code (NEC) applies in the USA and in Canada, the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC). These codes have the character of installation regulations for electrical system in all areas and refer to a series of standards from other institutions, which include provisions for the installation and construction of suitable operating equipment.

The installation methods for the zone concept according to NEC 505 largely correspond to the class/division system. Various standards and determinations apply for the construction and testing of explosion-protected electrical systems and resources in North America. In the USA, these are primarily the standards of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), Factory Mutual Research Corporation (FM), and the International Society for Measurement and Control (ISA). In Canada, by contrast, those of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). In North America, areas subject to explosion fall under the term “hazardous locations” and they are described in the USA in sections 500 and 505 of the National Electrical Code (NED) and in Canada in section 18 and Appendix J of the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC).

Areas where flammable gases, vapor or fog will occur are designated as Class I, where dust will occur as Class II and where fibers and lint will occur, Class III. The frequency and duration of occurrence of these materials define the hazardous locations as Division 1 or Division 2. In the USA, the customary division into zones has been accepted in addition to the existing system for Class I since 1996. These changes followed Article 505 of the NEC. In Canada, the IEC zone concept for Class I was introduced with the CEC edition in 1988; all new systems must be divided according to this concept.


Underwriters Laboratories is an independent organization which tests the safety of products according to applicable US product safety requirements. The UL approval mark differs from IEC certification which defined only the minimum requirements for a device. Underwriters Laboratories tests according to its own, more stringent safety requirements, which, for example, also include product manufacturing in the test depending on the standard. For this reason, UL approval is highly accepted worldwide. This is true not only in Europe; for example, the UL mark also improves export opportunities in the USA, Canada and Asia.

1999/92EG, BetrSichV and ProdSV


The requirements of ATEX Directives 1999/92/EC are minimum requirements that member states must implement as national law. The member states can also adopt stricter requirements. In Germany, these directives have been enacted in the form of two regulations, the Explosion Protection Regulation (ExVO) and Industrial Safety Regulation (BetrSichV).


The operating guidelines for explosion protection are specified in the Industrial Safety Regulation, applicable since January 1, 2003. This regulation is directed toward the assembly, installation and operation of equipment in hazardous locations. Only devices complying with the ATEX Product Directive 94/9/EC may be used.

Marketing devices and protective systems that comply with standards and are intended for application in hazardous locations is controlled by the Explosion Protection Regulation (ExVO).

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