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April 29, 2015

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Are you ready for the EMF directive?

EMF Link Microteksmall
A new EU directive on electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the workplace comes into force in July 2016. In an Innovation Pod on Stand R1980 at the Safety & Health Expo, EMF safety specialist Link Microtek will be featuring an easy-to-use hand-held instrument that helps health and safety professionals comply with the legislation. The company’s technical director, Hugo Bibby, explains more.
 

The EU has been trying for many years to bring in legislation to protect workers from the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and after several delays and false starts this is now finally happening. Directive 2013/35/EU, which comes into force in July 2016, will for the first time lay down mandatory limits on exposure to EMFs in the workplace. The good news is that most organisations are unlikely to be affected very much by this. While it’s true that every employer will be obliged to carry out an EMF risk assessment, no further action will be needed in the majority of cases.

However, the spotlight definitely will be on any organisation using equipment that operates at high voltage or high current levels. In the industrial sector, this primarily means welding and non-destructive testing processes, as well as induction and dielectric heating equipment. Other directly affected sectors include the electricity-supply industry, railways and healthcare (although MRI scanners are specifically exempted). High EMFs also routinely occur in broadcast and telecommunications workplaces, but these sectors have long been aware of the issue and all the major operators already have appropriate measures in place.

To assist employers with the EMF risk assessment process and implementation of the directive, a non-binding Practical Guide is currently in preparation and will be available no later than 1st January 2016. This publication will not only help the majority of employers to quickly recognise they do not have a problem with EMFs but will also provide more detailed guidance for employers who do have higher fields in their workplace.

In the meantime, the best course of action for health and safety professionals is to start developing in-house knowledge of EMFs and the provisions of the directive. That might sound like a daunting task, but in truth anyone who deals with say noise and vibration in the workplace should be able to get to grips with the subject matter without too much difficulty. Eventually, EMF exposure will need to be assessed, and if compliance cannot be reliably determined on the basis of readily accessible information, it will be necessary to carry out measurements and/or perform calculations.

For organisations using low-frequency/high-current industrial equipment, the ELT-400 Model 107 exposure level tester offers a simple means of proving compliance with the directive. Manufactured by Narda Safety Test Solutions and available in the UK from Link Microtek, this innovative hand-held instrument makes an otherwise complicated measurement very easy. It really is as straightforward to operate as a noise meter, displaying magnetic field strengths as a percentage of the ‘High’, ‘Low’ and ‘Limb’ Action Levels defined in the EMF directive. And since the instrument continuously monitors the field and updates the display, any alteration to the equipment setup, e.g. a power reduction, can be evaluated immediately.

For anyone wanting to learn more about the EMF directive or to see the ELT-400 Model 107 in action, there will be an ideal opportunity at the Safety & Health Expo, where Link Microtek will be showing the product in an Innovation Pod on Stand R1980.

LM581Fig2 - Hugo BibbyHugo Bibby is technical director of Link Microtek Ltd and a Chartered Radiation Protection Professional (CRadP), having been involved with EMF safety measurements for over 25 years. During the past 15 years, he has been working specifically with the Narda Safety Test Solutions range of EMF safety measurement and monitoring equipment, gaining practical experience of many EMF safety issues spanning industrial, military, telecommunications and broadcast systems.

 

 

 

 

 

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