What is an Electromagnetic field (EMF)?
An EMF is produced whenever an electrical or electronic device or circuit is used. As the name suggests, an EMF can have an electrical and or magnetic effect on body tissue or implanted or worn medical devices.
Exposure at higher levels can be irritating or unpleasant. In very limited circumstances the effect can be harmful.
The hazard is entirely proximity dependent. EMF intensity drops off very rapidly over short distances.
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An initial desktop study by the Corporate Health and Safety Team suggests there may be a small number of workplace environments and work equipment types in Fife Council which could potentiallypresent a hazard; and a very small number of employees who may be at additional risk –this includes employees with active or passive implanted medical devices or who use body-worn medical devices (e.g. insulin pumps) and potentially expectant Mums.
We can be confident however that the greater majority of our workplaces and Council facilities are at no greater risk than that in the public environment, where intensity of electromagnetic fields are controlled and regulated in accordance with standards published by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
Work is currently underway with Service Management Teams to confirm and quantify any significant risk arising from electromagnetic fields in Fife Council.
Further information is avialable within HSE publication HSG281: Electromagnetic fields at work (A guide to the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016).
Condensed Internal Guidance will be posted here soon.
Please contact us if you have any individual concerns at this time.
Mobile phones, wirelessly connected smart meters, data tablets, laptops etc.
Public Health England is the authoritative source of guidance on non-ionising radiation effects arising from these types of device. PHE in turn support the work of the Independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (IAGNR) and adoption of the exposure level guidelines issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRP).
Studies, reports and guidance issued by these Organisations (which are in turn endorsed by Public Health Scotland) confirm that there is no identified adverse health affect to adults or children arising from use of these types of devices. Nevertheless, there is recognition that this technology is still relatively new and on that basis, the following basic precautions should be applied when using mobile phones. (These precautions should be included within the manufacturer's instructions with each works mobile phone):
- Hold the phone slightly away from your ear
- keep call duration and number of calls to a minimum
- use hands-free kits wherever possible
(and note that there are additional legal requirements for use of mobile phones and onboard data devices whilst driving)
The radiation effects from these types of devices fall off rapidly over distance. For this reason, and in this context, smart meters, tablets, ipads or laptops etc. do not require any particular precautions in use or when working in proximity.
More information available at these pages: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/electromagnetic-fields