Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) Testing
Workplaces can be dangerous and hazardous places, so maintaining high safety levels is vital for the wellbeing of your employees.
All companies will have their own procedures in place to manage risks and ensure that their workers are protected, but regular safety tests can help you to comply with important regulations.
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) regulate most UK companies and provide advice and guidance on how to stay safe at work.
Limiting the exposure to harmful substances is a main focus in ensuring safety in the workplace, this includes radiation such as Electro Magnetic Fields (EMFs).
What Are Electro Magnetic Fields (EMFs)?
EMFs are emitted whenever electricity flows. They will therefore come from any electrical equipment found in the workplace, ranging from exposed motors, welding, induction furnaces, and radio-frequencies from transmitters.
Crucially, for industrial applications, the higher the electrical current (in Amps) used by the equipment the higher the EMFs emitted.
In July 2016, the HSE Control of Electromagnetic Field at Work (”CEMFAW”) Regulations (CEMFAW) came into force to identify the sources, assess the risks and control the exposure of EMFs from electrical equipment in order to protect employees.
With 90% of the world’s population now having access to electricity, it is even more vital that employers maintain safe EMF levels and do not let them exceed the CEMFAW Regs Action Levels (“ALs”) in order to keep employees safe.
What Are the Effects of EMF Radiation?
For individuals not “at particular risk” to EMFs (see below), exposure to high levels of EMFs can cause acute health effects. These effects depend on the frequency (in hertz) of the EMFs being emitted. However, these effects only occur if the CEMFAW Regs Action Levels are exceeded:
- At EMFs at low frequencies eg) from ubiquitous 50Hz mains-powered equipment as found throughout industrial applications, effects are purely sensory eg) nauseous feeling, dizziness, vertigo, muscle / nerve twitching or tingling, magneto phosphines etc. 99% of industrial equipment falls into this low frequency bracket
- At high frequencies however eg) typically at radio-frequencies at many 1000’s of Hertz / MHz, thermal effects occur – these EMFs cause the body to heat up either internally or externally whish are considered more “dangerous” than the above sensory effects. This is the reason why the Action Levels at higher frequencies are set lower than low / 50Hz frequencies as above
Note, it is important to understand the HSE CEMFAW Regs only covers non-ionising radiation EMFs ie) non-cancer causing radiation.
However, for individuals “at particular risk” to EMFs, the effects of EMF exposures are potentially much more serious – “At Risk” means those wearing electronic medical implants in particular eg) pacemakers, hormone pumps etc where EMFs even at relatively low exposures can interfere with their operation, or metal implants where EMFs can cause heating / expansion effects, or expectant mothers in-relation to the developing embryo.
Therefore, the EMF “safe” threshold levels for those At-Risk are set much lower than those not At-Risk as above, typically 10x lower for typical 50Hz industrial mains power equipment.
Because of their higher risk, the CEMFAW Regs stipulates a Personal EMF Risk Assessment must be undertaken for any At-Risk Employee based on 1) the equipment they use and 2) areas they access on a typical working shift to ensure their EMF safety in the workplace.
Although the above sounds daunting, the one good thing about EMFs is they drop-off dramatically even over very short distances away from the source. Therefore, simply keeping distance is the best, simplest & most effective method of reducing EMF exposures.
What is Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) Testing?
With ever-growing quantities of EMFs in our environment, it is useful to regularly assess & monitor the levels in your workspace, and to ensure you are working within the Regulations. If you do not follow the CEMFAW Regs and therefore allow your levels to go above the Action Levels, you may receive a costly non-compliance fine.
Although EMF exposure levels in everyday workplace life are usually below the Action Levels, it is still important to control your EMF levels so that nobody suffers potential health consequences.
Note, actual EMF measurements are not always necessary! You only need to measure that equipment which may potentially exceed the Action Levels – it all depends on what equipment is present. And if you have any Employees at particular risk to EMFs as above – in such a scenario more EMF measurements will be required as more equipment could potentially exceed the “safe” EMF thresholds for those At Risk.
What Does An EMF Assessment Involve?
Here at Workplace Exposure, we can provide an assessment to establish the risks of EMF exposures present at your workplace. All of our testing is conducted with accordance to the HSE’s guidebook & CEMFAW Regs Guidance using EMF Meters fully compliant with them. From this Assessment a plan can be made for controlling these measures and the risks for your employees.
The nature of the EMF survey is similar to a noise survey. An initial “Checklist of Equipment requiring EMF measurements” (from the CEMFAW Guidance) is first used to ascertain what equipment / areas may potentially exceed the CEMFAW Regs Action Levels, or the Limits for those at particular risk to EMFs.
EMF measurements are then taken of any such identified equipment and the EMF levels compared with the relevant thresholds to identify any exceedances.
If any exceedances are measured, the “safe” distances in cm are then measured to pinpoint the exact distance away an individual needs to keep to be below these thresholds.
Furthermore, as part of the Survey, we affix the relevant EMF warning stickers onto equipment which require it so that particular Action is completed for you. It saves you having to source & buy them, and avoids any potential confusion.
After the survey is completed and the risks have become clear, we will work with you to create a plan of action that includes control measures that are required to reduce the risks, and a list of health risks for particular groups of individuals who may be more vulnerable to radiation effects than others.
We’re Here to Help
With over fifty years’ experience, there is nobody better qualified to help you ensure safety in the workplace. If it’s time for you to test your EMF levels, then get in touch with us today.
Either call us on 0800 689 4386 or fill in an enquiry form to discuss your monitoring needs. After this, we’ll provide you with a no-obligation proposal where we can explore your requirements and offer an initial idea of fees.
Once you accept our proposal, we’ll get working on making your workplace a safe place for everyone. After our site visit you can expect a comprehensive report providing you with advice, recommendations and control measures to help create a happier and healthier workplace.