Protection measures against electric shock of an atmospheric origin in ATEX areas

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas, a company specialized in lightning protection systems, offers solutions for the protection and prevention of occupational hazards due to thunderstorms in ATEX areas.

What is ATEX

Directive 1999/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1999 on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk in explosive atmospheres, established the definition of an ATEX area (explosive atmosphere zone) as “the mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or powders, in which, after ignition, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture. ”


The National Institute of Workplace Safety and Hygiene (INSHT), in accordance with the provisions of article 5.3 of Royal Decree 39/1997, of January 17, had among its tasks the one related to the preparation of Guides for the evaluation and prevention of occupational hazards, that is why NTP 826 (2009) was subsequently created on the protection of the health and safety of workers exposed to the risks derived from the formation of explosive atmospheres in the workplace:

The Royal Decree 681/2003, of June 12, on the protection of the health and safety of workers exposed to the risks derived from explosive atmospheres in the workplace, specifically entrusts, in its first final provision, to the National Institute of Safety and Hygiene at Work, the elaboration and updated maintenance of a non-binding Technical Guide, for the evaluation and prevention of risks related to explosive atmospheres that may be formed in the workplace. ”

Article 3 of RD 681/2003 establishes that:

“In order to prevent explosions, in accordance with article 15.1 of the Occupational Risk Prevention Law, and to provide protection against them, the employer must take technical and / or organizational measures depending on the type of activity, following an order of priority and in accordance with the following basic principles: prevent the formation of explosive atmospheres or, when the nature of the activity does not allow it, avoid the ignition of explosive atmospheres and mitigate the harmful effects of an explosion in a way that guarantees the health and safety of workers. ”

How is the risk of ignition determined?

The risk of explosion due to an explosive atmosphere will occur when it coexists with an ignition source capable of igniting it.

The determination of the risk of ignition is established in the UNE-EN 1127-1: 2012 standard. In this, a descriptive table appears where examples of areas, equipment, processes or activities are presented where areas of risk of formation of ATEX areas may appear. In this classification we find lightning as a source of ignition.

The conditions of appearance (by thunderstorms) are:

• Lightning discharge.

• Transient currents associated with the lightning strike that cause heating, shock and sparks.

• Lightning-free storms: they can induce significant stresses in protective devices and equipment.

What type of industries do ATEX areas affect?

Industries with ATEX areas are those in which they can find potentially explosive atmospheres and, therefore, must guarantee the minimum measures for the protection of workers against the risks they entail.

Some of the affected industrial sectors are:

  • Chemical industry
  • Locations for the use of flammable chemicals
  • Refineries
  • Food industry
  • Agricultural industries
  • Power plants
  • Wood working industry
  • Painting and enamelling workshops
  • Wastewater treatment companies
  • Manufacture of light metal parts and metal carpentry workshops
  • Waste recycling industries
  • Landfills
  • Laundries and dry cleaners
  • Textile and related industries
  • Forest and related industries
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Gas supply companies
  • Agricultural facilities/ breeding facilities
  • Repair of vehicle

Prevention of occupational risks due to electrical storms in ATEX areas

In terms of prevention, according to NTP 826 (2009), “it is the employer’s obligation to prevent the formation of explosive atmospheres, avoid ignition and mitigate the damage and detrimental effects of a possible explosion.”

In addition, it specifies that the employer must take different technical or organizational measures, always in accordance with the basic principles that must inspire preventive action (article 15 of the Law on Prevention of Occupational Risks -LPRL-), which will be combined or completed , when necessary, with measures against the spread of explosions.

In order to comply in terms of occupational hazard and risk prevention from atmospheric electric shocks, Aplicaciones Tecnológicas offers a complete study service for lightning protection, adapting each project to the needs and current regulations.

Likewise, and guaranteeing the conformity of the requirements established in the main regulations, our company offers the following ATEX-certified products:

DAT CONTROLER® REMOTE Early Streamer Emission Air Terminals

The Early Streamer Emission Air Terminal (ESE) is characterized by a fast response to the approach of the lightning bolt, acting in the capture ahead of any other elements within its protection zone, in order to lead it to the ground safely.

The DAT CONTROLER® REMOTE lightning rod uses the energy of the environmental electric field to optimize the capture of lightning before any other element within its protection zone. It is completely autonomous, maintenance-free and its status can be remotely checked at any time.

Other features of the ESE DAT CONTROLER® REMOTE:

  • ES: Radio protection certificate for each model and level calculated according to UNE 21186: 2011 standards and the Technical Building Code (CTE)
  • INT: Radio protection certificate for each model and level calculated according to UNE 21186: 2011, NF C 17-102: 2011 and NP 4426: 2013 standards.
  • AENOR PRODUCT CERTIFICATION Nº 058/000005 (Resistance to extreme environmental conditions certified (Salt mist and sulfurous humid atmosphere test). Certified withstand current: 100 kA (10/350 μs). Advance time in certified ΔT priming (Annex C , UNE 21186: 2011).
  • Withstand current certificate greater than 200kA (10/350 μs)
  • Certificate of operation in adverse rain conditions.
  • Certificate of compliance with electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) regulations and in accordance with the R & TTE radio directive
  • Certificate of use in explosive atmospheres (ATEX)

ATLOGGER lightning smart counter

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas puts at your disposal an intelligent lightning strike counter with ATEX certified areas that:

  • Records lightning current passage, amplitude, polarity, date and time of discharge.
  • Information can be collected on a specific device with a USB connection.
  • Stores information on up to 40 events.
  • Easy and intuitive data management software.
  • Easy installation: no downpipe interruption required.

For more information about our ATEX certified products for the protection of the health and safety of workers exposed to the risks derived from explosive atmospheres in the workplace, contact us by clicking here. Our experts will carry out an individualized study to offer you the best installation and maintenance solutions in lightning protection systems.