On 26 June 2013, the new European Directive (2013/35/EU) on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields (EMF)) was published. This directive replaces the previous directive 2004/40/EC and will become law in Europe by 1 July 2016. Although the directive applies to all industries, it is believed that this legislation will have a significant impact on the welding industry, because some welding processes generate significant levels of magnetic fields. Employers will need to make an assessment of workers exposure to EMF and if the exposure is above the exposure limit values, they will need to develop an action plan to reduce exposure. Depending on the level of exposure some processes may require worker information and training, and health surveillance for EMF.
The main processes likely to be affected are:
- resistance welding
- some arc welding processes
- RF welding of plastics
- induction heating and brazing
- magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI)
Companies using any of these processes are advised to act now and make an assessment of EMF on the shop floor and to put into place a plan to be ready for 2016. TWI can provide information and guidance on the Directive. In some cases measurements may be necessary to demonstrate compliance and TWI has appropriate calibrated instruments to carry out an assessment.
TWI is supporting the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK and is a member of the working group responsible for UK guidance on the EMF directive, which should be available by 2015.
TWI is also the technical manager of the European Project EMFWELD, in which magnetic fields from welding processes are being measured. Computer modelling is then used to assess the induced field in the welder for comparison with exposure limit values. In this project a software toolkit will be developed to assist companies in complying with the directive by making an assessment of EMF exposure.
For further information on compliance with the EMF directive in the welding industry, please contact us.
The project is comprised of a transnational consortium, which includes seven partners (TWI, EWF, CEEMET, CHALMERS, LINK MICROTEK, SWANTEC and INACEINOX). The project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA-Research Executive Agency (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. FP7-SME-2012-2-315382.
Click here for further information on EMFWELD.