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16. European Union Physical Agents Directive (EMF) EUPAD

16.1 Background

The European Union Physical Agents Directive1 concerning worker exposure to Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMFs) was formally adopted in June 2013 with a transposition date of 1st July 2016. The Directive covers the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from EMFs.

A copy of the published version can be viewed online:

16.1.1 In Great Britain, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for overseeing implementation. In Northern Ireland the responsible body is the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Executive (HSENI).

16.1.2 Derogations 

The Directive includes a derogation for activities related to the installation, testing, use, development, maintenance of or research related to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment for patients in the health sector, from the exposure limit values, (ELVs) subject to certain conditions.
There are also conditional derogations for the military and a general temporary conditional derogation for specific activities subject to agreement with the overseeing authority for each member state.  See 16.4.4

16.3  Requirements

HSE and HSENI have only introduced new requirements from the directive that go beyond current UK legislation.

HSE sets out its requirements in the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work (CEMFAW) Regulations 2016.39

Further information is available in a guidance document published by HSE

A guide to the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 40


HSE NI sets out its requirements in The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016. 41

Further information is detailed in an explanatory memorandum. 42

HSE NI states that the statutory rule will also be supported by the publication A Guide to the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 40

16.4  Exemptions

The CEMFAW Regulations (regulation 13(1)) 39,41 grant HSE and HSENI power to exempt employers from the exposure limits contained in the regulations. Any exemption will be subject to safety conditions.

16.4.1 If an activity is exempt, employers must ensure that:

  • exposure is as low as is reasonably practical
  • employees are protected against health effects and safety risks arising from that exposure.

16.4.2 Employers will not be required to use measurements or calculations in their exposure assessment, or undertake an action plan, in relation to activities that are included in the exemption. All other requirements of the regulations still apply to that work activity.

16.4.3  Employers must still carry out risk assessments and ensure that workers are given appropriate information and training.16.4.4 Exemption certificates

HSE and HSENI have published exemption certificates 43,44 containing information about activities which are exempt (under general temporary conditional derogation).

Available online:

16.4.5 Further information

Further information regarding exemptions is available on the following HSE and HSENI web pages:

16.5  EU non-binding practical guidance

EU non- binding guidance 45,46,47 has been published to assist implementation.
Available online:

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