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ATEX is a standard that has been in place by many European nations since 2003. Within its directive, it requires counties participating within the European Union to follow quite specific rules and regulations in regards to merchandise and equipment that are used in potentially explosive atmospheres.
While, you may think that something like ATEX is limited to oil and natural gas production, distillation and distribution companies, there are also quite a few businesses in the food industry that will also fall under the ATEX regulations.
This is why, if you are a business or organization that is required to follow the ATEX directive, you should seriously consider working with a consultancy firm that is uniquely able to handle the very specific rules that ATEX requires.
The first thing that your firm is going to want to look for when searching for a good consulting group to work with is if they have the knowledge, skills and expertise to understand ATEX and be able to guide you on it.
Ideally, you will want to find consulting groups that have experience in things like explosion prevention, flameproof designs and Intrinsic Safety designs. Looking for these specific skills will be able to help you greatly narrow down the field to only those firms who truly have the required expertise you are looking for.
You don't want to work with a consulting firm that has just 'heard' about ATEX, you want a firm that has consulted, designed and monitored the build of ATEX compliant sites and chambers. Only then will you really be able to see that you are getting highly competent people to work with.
From there, contact the firms that you have found and ask to see more informational about the services that they offer. Ideally, you should be able to see at the very least a portfolio of some of the work that they have performed before for other companies that also need to comply with ATEX. And, even better, if they could give you more information in the form of case studies.
You are going to want to remember to perform your own due diligence in this matter. There is nothing wrong with calling some of the companies listed as having work done by consulting firms that is ATEX compliant and asking for reviews or testimonials. If another company who had the same type of flameproof design that you want installed and are happy with it, that is going to be a great sign.
Another part of the due diligence process is to check for accreditation's. Working with a firm that has an ASCB(E) accreditation and ISO safety standards is going to show that they take their work quite seriously and hold themselves up to a high working standard.
Once your organization has performed all the searches and due diligence necessary, you are ready to start working with your chosen ATEX consulting firm. From there you'll be able to start getting your designs off of the drawing board with out having to fear that they will not be compliant with all of the proper regulations.