Skip to main content
Health & Safety Event 2022

8 - 10 April 2025
NEC, Birmingham

Exhibitor Products


24 Apr 2024

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Site Surveys & Assessments

Safety First Group Stand: 3/F56

What are EMFs?

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are emitted whenever electricity flows. The higher the current flow (in Amps) the higher the EMFs emitted. Exposure to high levels of EMFs can give rise to acute short-term effects – these depend on the frequency (in Hertz) of the EMFs and the level of EMF exposure.

At low frequencies as typically encountered in industry the effects are purely sensory (see below), whilst at high frequencies such as from phone masts heating effects can occur leading to a rise in body temperature. In reality, these effects only occur when in-excess of the HSE EMF Action Levels and will not occur in most day-to-day work situations.

However, Employers still have a duty under the HSE CEMFAW Regs 2016 to assess EMF exposures to their Employees to ensure they are below the safe EMF Action Levels.

What are their effects?

Broadly speaking, there are three types of effects EMFs have on humans:

1) Sensory effects as encountered in the vast majority of industrial applications ie) from low frequency 50Hz mains-powered equipment. Typical symptoms include nausea, vertigo, flashing in the eyes, muscle & nerve twitching etc.

2) Thermal effects at higher radio-frequencies eg) from mobile phone masts the effects – heating-up of either the outside of the body or the insides such as organs, muscles, tissue etc. Note: because these thermal / heating effects are deemed more “dangerous” than the above sensory effects, the EMF Action Levels from such radio-frequency equipment are set lower than industrial equipment.

3) Indirect effects ie) when EMFs strike something which then causes a detrimental effect on a human. Typically, this means electronic medical implants where potential interferences caused by EMFs could impact the individual wearing it eg) pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps, hearing aids etc (see below) .

Some examples of sources of high electromagnetic fields in the workplace which can exceed the HSE CEMFAW Regs Action Levels include:

  • Induction heaters
  • Welding
  • Power distribution and transmission eg) Transformers & Substations
  • Electrolysis
  • Magnetisers / Demagnetisers
  • Brazing equipment
  • MRI/NMR medical diagnostic equipment
  • Foundries

This list of equipment, processes and systems where electromagnetic fields can be generated is extensive. An Electromagnetic Fields Assessment is the only way to cover all bases

Employees / individuals “At Particular Risk” to EMFs:

Some individuals are much more susceptible to the effects of EMF exposures, specifically in the vast majority of industrial applications those wearing electronic medical implants such as those listed above and expectant mothers. These individuals are therefore classed as “At Particular Risk “ or “ At-Risk” to EMFs and consequently their safe EMF exposure levels are set much lower than those not At-Risk to EMFs. Typically, this is 10x lower for the vast majority of 50Hz mains-powered industrial equipment.

Under the HSE CEMFAW Regs 2016, any identified “At-Risk” Employee must have a Personal EMF Risk Assessment undertaken based on 1) the equipment used and 2) areas accessed by that Employee on a typical working day to ensure they are below the EMF safe threshold levels for those At-Risk to EMFs. Furthermore, Companies also have a duty-of-care to protect any At-Risk Contractors / Visitors. Both these scenarios are assessed and covered by Safety First Group during an EMF Assessment.

Some examples of equipment which could exceed the EMF Limits for those At-Risk to EMFs:

  • All the above listed equipment (significantly so….)
  • Hand-held mains-powered tools eg) grinders, drills etc
  • Exposed motors, pumps & drives (when at chest or head or hip-height)
  • Electrical Distribution Boards
  • Magnets & electromagnets
  • Fork-lift Truck Chargers
  • Soldering

 EMF and The Law

There are specific regulations from the HSE which workplaces are required to comply with, in order to meet their legal obligations. The HSE Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work (“CEMFAW”) Regulations 2016 requires an assessment of employees’ exposure to EMFs with reference to action levels (ALs) and exposure limit values (ELVs). A comprehensive EMF site survey will provide you with all the necessary information to know what actions to take, and what equipment may exceed these EMF threshold levels.

Electromagnetic Fields Assessment

An Electromagnetic Fields Assessment, otherwise known as an EMF Assessment for short, is used as part of managing health and safety in the workplace. As it is required to control the risks in the workplace under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, this includes considering any risks arising from exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) which may require an EMF site survey in order to determine the level of EMF exposure.

Exposure Limit Values refer to the legal limits of exposure in relation to EMF. However, these are difficult to determine and so for this reason a separate set of values, known as Action :Levels, has been produced relating to quantities which can be measured more easily.

The Regulations limit exposure to EMFs known to cause adverse health effects and requires employers to assess EMF exposure, keep records and undertake corrective action where limits are exceeded in the workplace. In order to avoid employees being affected by the associated health problems, it is vital to meet these requirements. EMF Assessments at work comprise of an EMF site survey of the typical sources of electromagnetic fields with EMF measurements where required.

Safety First’s EMF Assessments

At Safety First, we are experienced in conducting EMF site surveys by using fully compliant & calibrated EMF Meters & Probes in accordance with HSE’s HSG281 Electromagnetic fields at work: A guide to the (CEMFAW) Regulations 2016.

Your EMF site survey will include:

  • a full EMF audit of equipment & areas to ascertain what equipment, if any, will require EMF measurements (for both At-Risk individuals and those not At-Risk to EMFs)
  • EMF measurements of equipment & areas where required
  • measurements of “safe” distances away from equipment to ensure they are below the EMF threshold levels – EMFs fall-off quickly even over short distances away from the source
  • a full & comprehensive EMF Assessment Report including any Personal EMF Risk Assessments of any At-Risk Employees where identified
  • Report to include straightforward Actions to ensure the Client is fully compliant with the HSE CEMFAW Regs 2016

Once your EMF Assessment has been completed, it does not need to be reviewed or repeated for 5-years (with certain straightforward caveats).

View all Exhibitor Products

The Safety & Security Event Series

The Health & Safety Event LogoFire Safety Logothe security eventThe Workplace EventNational Cyber Security ShowPSOL Logo