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What are Electromagnetic Fields? (EMF)

3 November 2022


Electric and magnetic fields occur naturally in nerves and muscles of our bodies, and in the Earth’s magnetic field.  In the workplace we are concerned about Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) produced by currents and fields in electric power systems.

Did you know that you need to carry out an assessment for all workers exposed to Electromagnetic Fields? This is needed for all work and equipment operating at high electrical currents.

Common sources of EMF include:

  • Overhead power lines
  • Underground power cables
  • Electrical supplies
  • Power inverters
  • Welding and soldering applications
  • Industrial microwaves
  • Forklift battery chargers
  • Two-way radios
  • Battery-driven transmitters
  • Industrial magnetic applications

Some employees are at particular risk and need to be identified when you carry out your risk assessments.

  • Pregnant workers
  • Workers with Active Implanted Medical Devices (AIMD) such as cardiac pacemakers, implants, drug infusion pumps, etc.
  • Workers with Passive Implanted Medical Devices Containing Metal such as artificial joints, stents, heart valve prostheses, metallic contraceptive implants, etc.
  • Workers with Body-worn Medical Devices such as external hormone infusion pumps and hearing aids.
  • Workers in close proximity to electro-explosive devices, explosive materials or flammable liquids. EMF can produce electric shots that can trigger explosives with electrical means of initiation.

Exposure to EMF at work is regulated by the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016, which came into force on 1 July 2016. These regulations recognise that external electric or magnetic fields can create a smaller field in the human body, which can interfere with nerves.  The limits protect workers from the sensory and health effects of these fields.

Need Support?

Our experts can help you measure and identify your EMF risk:

  1. Identify areas of concern in the workplace for future measurement
  2. General measurement of identified equipment or areas of concern
  3. Provide recommendations on controlling identified risks

Find out more about EMF Surveys.