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EM Field Exposure Directive Approved By EU Parliament

Legislation approved this week will affect workers who come into contact with electromagnetic fields, including doctors and nurses giving patients MRI scans, radar operators and power line technicians.

New rules to update and improve the protection of those exposed to electromagnetic fields in the workplace were approved by the European Parliament earlier this week and are set to be formally adopted by the European Union’s Council of Ministers on the 20th June. Member States will be required to implement the new directive into their national law by 1st July, 2016.

Under the new directive, employers are required to evaluate the risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields and take adequate measures to reduce them as needed. A number of provisions are included in the new directive to enable employers to more easily carry out the required risk assessments.

Employers will also be required to provide workers and their representatives with information and training pertaining to electromagnetic field exposure. In addition, the limit values for electromagnetic field exposure and the levels at which the employer must take action have been changed and are now based on new, more stringent recommendations from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP).

Exemptions in certain applications that require higher limit values, such as the use of certain medical or military technologies, are also listed. The new directive addresses the short-term biophysical effects—such as tissue heating and stimulation of muscles, nerves or sensory organs—and indirect biophysical effects—such as interference with cardiac pacemakers—of exposure to electromagnetic fields; however, at Parliament’s request, the Commission will continue to monitor future research and development and add new information to address possible long-term effects if deemed necessary.

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