New EU Regulations for Employees’ EMF Exposure



The Health and Safety Authority, herein after referred to as ‘the Authority’, has prepared this Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) in line with the Revised RIA Guidelines, (Department of the Taoiseach, 2009).

This RIA considers the options and assesses the impacts of the requirement to transpose the Directive 2013/35/EU of The European Parliament and of The Council of 26th June 2013 implementing the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) (20th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC and repealing Directive 2004/40/EC. The deadline for Member States to comply with the Directive is 1st July 2016.

The impact of transposing the Directive through the proposed new Regulations is expected to be minimal for the majority of employers given that many of the obligations already exist in principles expounded in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and Part 2, Chapter 2, Use of Work Equipment and Part 3, Electricity of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. However there will be compliance costs for employers in a number of specified sectors.

The proposed new Regulations apply the same principles specifically to the issue of electromagnetic fields but are more explicit and specific with regard to certain obligations such as exposure limit values, action levels, assessment of risk, determination of exposure, provisions aimed at avoiding or reducing risks, employee information, training, consultation and participation of employees and health surveillance.

Exposure limit values may be exceeded for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment used in the healthcare sector provided other safe guards are implemented.

All employers will be required to carry out an EMF risk assessment, and the guidance prepared by the EU Commission should assist in making this a fairly simple exercise. For the majority of employers this will not involve calculations or measurements and no further action is needed. However there will be additional compliance costs and requirements for employers in a number of specified sectors, e.g. telecommunications, where calculations or measurements will be required as part of the risk assessment. The costs are likely to be proportionally higher for SMEs than for bigger organisations. Indicative costs are outlined in section 5, Impact Analysis. However these costs are not considered to be disproportionate when balanced against the savings to be made by the reduction of harmful direct and indirect effects in employees caused by electromagnetic fields.

Direct effects are separated into non-thermal effects, such as the stimulation of nerves, muscles and sensory organs, and thermal effects such as tissue heating. Indirect effects occur where the presence of an object within an electromagnetic field may become the cause of a safety or health hazard, e.g. interference with medical equipment or implanted body devices.

The Directive and the proposed Regulations do not cover long term effects, e.g. cancer. Neither do they include risks resulting from contact with live conductors.


UK – The Guide by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to the UK’s new regulations on electromagnetic exposure, which came into force on 1 July 2016, explains how employers must make a risk assessment and give “special consideration” to “employees at particular risk” below the ICNIRP’s heating limits.

Employees who have EHS, including teachers and lecturers, should be able to benefit from this, but others, like pupils and students, also need similar protection.  ES-UK newsletter

The Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Directive

On June 29th, 2013, the European Commission repealed Directive 2004/40/EC and published Directive 2013/35/EU on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) (20th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 13(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC). The directive can be viewed online link to external website.

The final text of the Directive is largely well balanced and proportionate, and offers a framework within which Member States, including the UK can continue to protect their workers.

Member States have been given 3 years, up to 1st July 2016, to transpose the Directive.

Current information

Additional background information and progress on the transposition of the Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Directive in the UK can accessed via HSE’s Euronews site.

For more general information on electromagnetic fields, please see the non-ionising FAQs page.

Useful links:

Public Health England link to external website
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP) link to external website
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) link to external website
European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine & Biology (ESMRMB) link to external website
European Coordination Committee of the Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT Industry (COCIR) link to external website
Association of X-Ray Equipment Manufacturers (AXREM) link to external website
Royal College of Radiologists link to external website
National Grid link to external website
Engineering Employers Federation – EEF link to external website
Confederation of British Metalforming link to external website
Medical research Council link to external website


Guide to CEMFAW Regulations – HSG 281

EMF exemption certificate PDF

More resources:

The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 PDF link to external website

S T A T U T O R Y  I N S T R U M E N T S
2016 No. 588
The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016

The Secretary of State makes these Regulations in exercise of the powers conferred by sections 15(1), (2), (5), (8) and 82(3)(a) of, and paragraphs 8, 9, 11, 13(2) and (3), 14, 16, 18 and 20 of Schedule 3 to, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“the 1974 Act”)(a).
The Regulations give effect without modifications to proposals submitted to the Secretary of State by the Health and Safety Executive (“the Executive”) under section 11(3)(b) of the 1974 Act.
Before submitting those proposals to the Secretary of State, the Executive consulted the bodies that appeared to it to be appropriate as required by section 50(3)(c) of the 1974 Act.

Citation and commencement
1. These Regulations may be cited as the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 and come into force on 1st July 2016.
2. —(1) In these Regulations— “the 1974 Act” means the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; “AL” means an action level set out in Parts 2 and 3 of the Schedule; “direct biophysical effect” means an effect on human body tissue caused by its presence in an electromagnetic field; lectromagnetic field” means a static electric, static magnetic and time-varying electric, magnetic and electromagnetic field with a frequency of up to 300 GHz;
“ELV” means an exposure limit value set out in Part 2 of the Schedule; “employee at particular risk” means— (a) an employee who has declared to his or her employer a condition which may lead to a higher susceptibility to the potential effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields; or (b) an employee who works in close proximity to electro-explosive devices, explosive materials or flammable atmospheres; “health effect” means a direct biophysical effect which is potentially harmful to human health; “indirect effect” means an effect, caused by the presence of an object or a substance in an electromagnetic field, which may present a safety or health hazard; “sensory effect” means a direct biophysical effectinvolving a transient disturbance in sensory perception or a minor and temporary change in brain function.
(2) In these Regulations a reference to employees is, in relation to an employer, to be treated as a reference to the employees of that employer while they are at work.

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