Corporate responsibility, worker safety
The long road to implementation
The first Directive on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from electromagnetic fields was published as far back as 2004. Primarily, concerns from among medical circles led to the repeal of this initial version and its replacement by the new EMF Directive 2013/35/EU, which came into force in June 2013. EU member states must implement this Directive in their national laws by 1st July 2016.
New Directive with practical values
All the known direct biophysical effects and indirect effects of electromagnetic fields are included in the new Directive in order to guarantee the health and safety of workers. The specified limit values and personal protective measures have been determined on the basis of the latest scientific findings and refer exclusively to the scientifically proven direct short-term effects. And it’s good to know that the Directive is not intended to cancel any existing, more stringent national limit value regulations.
The EU member states are required to enact the necessary legislative and administrative regulations by 1st July 2016.
Now is the time for companies to act
To protect workers, all places of work must be subjected to a risk assessment according to the requirements of the EMF Directive. The physical quantities, exposure limit levels and action levels specified in the Directive are based on the recommendations of the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Of help here is the reference to a range of indicators and standard situations, which have been made available in guidelines. The sanctions that can be applied to a company in the event of a violation vary from one EU state to another. Whatever the case, these must be effective, appropriate, and deterrent.
The main points of EMF Directive 2013/35/EU of 26 June 2013
The Directive envisages the performance of a risk assessment for all places of work within the EU, with the result being documented, for example in the form of suitable measurements. The responsibility for doing this is borne by the employer, who must additionally take measures to prevent or reduce the risks. The Directive applies to exposure to electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields with frequencies from 0 Hz to 300 GHz.