EXPLAINED: EMF in the Workplace

The EMF Directive and measuring and mitigating against electromagnetic fields

28 February 2019

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.

Andreas has over 15 years' experience in EMC and radio testing, and particular expertise in BT/WiFi/NFC devices as well as EMF surveillance and EMF directive requirements. Having worked on a variety of instrumentation product projects, Andreas joined Intertek in 2015 as its Head of Notified Body in EMC and Radio. Andreas is responsible for the Radio Department at Intertek's Leatherhead laboratory. He has played an integral role in developing technical excellence across the team, enabling the offering of expert test services in a wide range of products encompassing a wide range of technologies, as well as providing expert knowledge in the area of EMF directive, for measuring electromagnetic fields at the workplace.