UK Guidelines


Compliance Assessment is a basic tool used by Health & Safety professionals.  Used correctly, it ensures the legal duties Companies have to protect employees and members of the public are exercised.  Risks are then managed that could otherwise result in bad PR,  poor employee relationships, claims made against a Company, or, prosecution.

The present guidelines applicable in the UK are those issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).  These guidelines will soon have a new legal status when the European Directive for the protection of employees from electromagnetic fields is enforced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) from April 2012.  In the meantime, compliance with the ICNIRP guidelines is covered by the more general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The HSE already have information that identifies the high risk work activities.




Outline of the Directive

The interpretation and application of this directive is being developed by CENELEC and the HSE.

The main elements of the Directive are outlined below.


Obligations of Employers

The Directive requires consultation and participation of workers and/or of their representatives to take place for all the following processes.


1. Determination of exposure and assessment of risks

The employer shall assess and, if necessary, measure and/or calculate the levels of electromagnetic fields to which workers are exposed.

If the action values are exceeded, the employer shall assess and, if necessary, calculate whether the exposure limit values are exceeded.

The assessment, measurement and/or calculations need not be carried out in workplaces open to the public provided that it is known that public action / limit values are not exceeded and any restrictions applied to the public are also respected for workers thereby excluding safety risks.

The assessment, measurement and/or calculations shall be planned and carried out by competent persons at suitable intervals.

All data obtained from the assessment, measurement and/or calculation of the level of exposure shall be preserved in a suitable form so as to permit consultation at a later stage.

The employer shall be in possession of an assessment of the risk and shall identify which measures must be taken.  The risk assessment may include a justification by the employer that the nature and extent of the risks related to electromagnetic fields make a further detailed risk assessment unnecessary.

The risk assessment shall be updated on a regular basis, particularly if there have been significant changes which could render it out of date, or when the results of health surveillance show it to be necessary.


2. Risk Prevention

The risks arising from exposure to electromagnetic fields shall be eliminated or reduced to a minimum.

Once the action values are exceeded, the employer shall devise and implement an action plan to prevent exposure exceeding the exposure limit values.

Access shall be restricted to Workplaces where workers could be exposed to electromagnetic fields exceeding the limit values and these areas shall be indicated by appropriate signs.

Workplaces where workers can be exposed to electromagnetic fields exceeding the action values shall be indicated by appropriate signs and access to them restricted unless levels can be shown to be below the limit values.

In all cases, workers shall not be exposed above the exposure limit values.  If the exposure limit values are exceeded, the employer shall take immediate action to reduce exposure below the exposure limit values.  The employer shall identify the reasons why the exposure limit values have been exceeded, and shall amend the protection and prevention measures accordingly in order to prevent them being exceeded again.

The employer shall also adapt the prevention measures to the requirements of workers at particular risk.

The employer shall ensure that workers who are exposed to risks from electromagnetic fields at work and/or their representatives receive any necessary information and training relating to the outcome of the risk assessment carried out.


3. Health surveillance

Health surveillance shall be carried out to enable an early diagnosis of any adverse health effects due to exposure to electromagnetic fields.  Where exposure above the limit values is detected, a medical examination shall be made available to the employee concerned in accordance with law and practice.  If health damage resulting from such exposure is detected, a reassessment of the risks shall be carried out by the employer.

The employer shall take appropriate measures to ensure the results of the risk assessment carried out are made available to the doctor and/or the medical authority responsible for the health surveillance.

The results of health surveillance shall be preserved in a suitable form so as to permit consultation at later date, taking account of confidentiality requirements.  Individual workers shall at their request, have access to their own personal health records in accordance with law and practice.





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