Electromagnetic Fields

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) arise whenever electrical energy is used. EMFs arise in our homes from all sorts of electrical appliances and in workplaces from electricity generation and transmission, broadcasting, radio and telephone base stations, dielectric and induction heating, welding, electric furnaces and medical equipment.

Exposure of people to high levels of EMFs can give rise to acute (short term) effects. The effects that occur depend on the frequency of the radiation. At low frequencies the effects will be on the central nervous system of the body whilst at high frequencies, heating effects can occur leading to a rise in body temperature. In reality, these effects are extremely rare and will not occur in most work situations.

EU Directive 2013/35/EU on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks from EMFs was transposed into Irish law on 1st July 2016 by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Electromagnetic Fields) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 337 of 2016). 

The Regulations impose a number of duties on employers. These include:

  • carrying out a risk assessment
  • avoiding and reducing risks
  • employee information, training and consultation
  • health surveillance where appropriate

The EU has produced 3 guides to assist employers complying with the Directive and regulations as follows:

  • Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Guide for SMEs
  • Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Volume 1: Practical Guide
  • Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Volume 2: Case Studies

In addition the HSA has produced a. short guide to the Regulations .