Electromagnetic Fields at Work

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK has recently published ‘Electromagnetic Fields at Work: A Guide to the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016’, which is available to download for free at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg281.htm

This publication is for anyone who has duties under the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work (CEMFAW) Regulations 2016. It provides guidance on how the provisions of the regulations should be met. It will also be useful to others with responsibility for health and safety, ie employees and safety representatives.

The guide provides information on identifying sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the workplace, assessing the exposure of employees to EMFs, action levels (ALs) and exposure limit values (ELVs), deciding what, if anything, may need to be done to protect employees from the risks that arise from exposure to EMFs, assessing and controlling any risks from EMFs in the workplace, protecting employees at particular risk, exemptions from certain aspects of the CEMFAW Regulations and references and further reading.

The majority of employers will not need to take any additional action to reduce the risks from EMFs. This is because either the levels of EMFs in most workplaces are already at a safe level or, in workplaces where employees may be exposed to higher levels of EMFs, the levels and associated risks will already have been assessed and managed.

Sources of EMF that may exceed the ELVs and/or the indirect-effect ALs include:
  • Dielectric heating and welding
  • Resistance welding: manual spot and seam welding
  • Induction heating
  • Induction soldering
  • Magnetic particle inspection (crack detection)
  • Industrial magnetiser and demagnetisers, for example tape erasers
  • Microwave heating and drying
  • RF plasma devices, including vacuum deposition and sputtering.

There is a requirement for those employers that are involved in magnetic particle inspection (which can also detect other flaws besides cracks) to implement the regulation and this guidance does mention one of the inspection methods used in NDT. There are other implications depending on where your workforce operates, including, but not limited to, those associated with welding.

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