Electromagnetic Fields

EMF-Effects on the Human Body

Deviations of the VEMF from 2013/35/EU

Situations in which the exposure limit values for sensory effects may be exceeded
(Art. 1, §3, par. (7-8))

In general, Directive 2013/35/EU allows for the possibility of temporarily exceeding the exposure limit values for sensory effects under certain conditions. In the VEMF this is specified so that this is only permitted for the following situations (subject to some conditions listed in §3, para. (8)):

  • during resistance and stud welding work in confined spaces (e.g., during the manufacture of prototypes in the automotive industry) with overshoot due to overload from the magnetic field,
  • in plants for the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical energy
    • when working with a nominal voltage of 220 kV and above, with exceeding due to overloading by the electric field,
    • during maintenance and servicing work with overshoot due to overloading by the magnetic field.


Permissible magnetic field-related exceedances of the exposure limit values in incidents at power generation and distribution facilities for a limited period of time
(Art. 1, §3, par. (9-10))

Since this topic is completely omitted from Directive 2013/35/EU, but is of practical relevance, a clear regulation has been made in this respect in the VEMF. Essentially, it is stipulated here that in such incidents (e.g., short circuits) short-term exceedances of the exposure limit values are permissible, whereby the duration of the exposure limit value exceedance must not exceed the tripping time of state-of-the-art disconnection devices. In addition, this exemption rule is linked to some conditions listed in paragraph §3, subsection (10).


Action levels for magnetic fields to avoid non-thermal effects
(Art. 1, §4, Para. (1), No. 2)

With a view to facilitating exposure assessment in practice, the VEMF specifies here that the "low action thresholds" defined in 2013/35/EU are to be observed in the sense of the VEMF at those places where the head of the worker may be present. Accordingly, the "high action thresholds" and "high action thresholds for limbs" from 2013/35/EU are defined in the VEMF as "action thresholds for the trunk" and "action thresholds for limbs".


Action levels and exposure limit values for pregnant workers (Art. 1, §5)

For pregnant women, the reference levels, and basic restrictions of the EU Council Recommendation 1999/519/EU apply at the workplace. These essentially correspond to the limit value recommendations for the general population according to the ICNIRP-Guidelines aus 1998. It is noted that these reference levels and basic restrictions in the frequency range up to 10 MHz partly deviate significantly from the current ICNIRP recommendations for the general population from 2010 (in most cases, the reference levels from 1998 provide a higher level of protection than the reference levels from 2010).


Assessments, calculations and measurements (Art. 1, §6)

Regarding the requirements for competent persons or services who are allowed to carry out assessments, calculations and measurements for risk assessment due to EMF at the workplace, the VEMF goes somewhat beyond the (very generally formulated) requirements in 2013/35/EU in that, in addition to technical knowledge, relevant professional experience is also explicitly required in the VEMF. Even if, in principle, company employees can be used as such experts, in many companies there will probably not be sufficient experience with this specific topic. In such cases, external experts should be used. Even with external experts, it should be ensured that they have the relevant experience required by law, as this is essential for a meaningful exposure assessment. Insufficient experience can often lead to misjudgments of the situation and this, in turn, can lead either to underestimations of the risk or to unreasonably high effort (and thus costs) in the exposure assessment.


Prohibition and restriction of employment for young workers (Art. 3)

The VEMF amends the KJBG-VO ordinance to the effect that the employment of young workers (under 18 years of age) at workplaces where the action levels according to the VEMF are exceeded is prohibited. However, this prohibition does not apply (according to KJBG-VO) to young workers after 18 months of training and if the work is carried out under supervision.



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