28 Feb 2019

The EMF Directive and measuring and mitigating against electromagnetic fields

Certain types of technology can produce intense electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and these fields can cause health risks. This is a growing concern in the workplace and for certain installation types which are likely to emit electromagnetic waves. These emissions must be monitored to ensure employees will not be harmed or suffer any long-term effects from exposure.

EMF consists of three kinds of fields. The first is a 'standing wave' which is a magnetic field leaking from equipment such as large transformers, current carrying conductors, electric motors etc. This type of field is not a travelling field but is 'trapped' around its source. Personnel exposed to such fields are those who are stationed near the vicinity of the source.

A second type of field is a 'static field' where a non-changing magnetic field can exist around a magnet or a DC current carrying conductor. Such fields can be present in an MRI installation or a DC battery bank charging system for example, and long-term exposure above the set limits can present health issues.

The third type of field found in a work area is a 'travelling wave' which is produced by radio transmitting devices such as any electronic equipment with a fast-changing pulses, such as a computer, TV, or a radio transmitter. Workers can be exposed to these fields even if they are some distance from the source.

What is the EMF Directive?

The EMF Directive deals with the human exposure at a workplace and the measurements of EMF fields, to ascertain that a working environment is a safe place for employees. The Directive is applicable to all workplaces and it is a legal requirement to measure and mitigate against the effects of EMF. It is the responsibility of all employers to carry out and EMF analysis (by analysing equipment/installation data or a full scale site measuring task) to prove that their EMF working environment is within safe limits for their workers, as defined by CEMFAW (UK Reg. 588/2016) Action Limits tables.

Learn more about EMF requirements and your legal obligations on our EMF informational page.

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