November 2015


Following the adoption of the revised EMF Directive (2013/35/EU), after the ESR-led Alliance for MRI’s successful six-year battle to obtain a conditional derogation for MRI, the European Commission has announced the publication of a non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Electromagnetic Fields.

The practical guide will help employers understand what they will need to do to comply with the Directive, and should also be useful for workers, representatives, and regulatory authorities in EU Member States.

 

Publication of the Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Electromagnetic Fields

One of the issues that kept the ESR busy for a number of years and required enormous effort was the EU Physical Agents Directive setting minimum safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to risks arising from electromagnetic fields (EMF), which at the time posed a serious threat to the future use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology. If the limit values laid down in the former Directive were applied to MRI, it would have prohibited MRI-guided surgery, forbidden nurses from remaining with patients during a scanning procedure, and impeded a number of other MR applications, thus denying Europe’s patients access to this life-saving technology.

In order to address these issues, a coalition of patient groups, scientists, the medical community and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), under the lead of the ESR, founded the Alliance for MRI in 2007.

After a six-year battle, the ESR-led Alliance for MRI campaign obtained a conditional derogation for MRI scanners from the requirement to comply with the exposure limit values, ensuring continued patient access and securing the future use of MRI technology.

The revised EMF Directive (2013/35/EU) was adopted in 2013, requiring the development of a non-binding guide to good practice on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) for all sectors, including MR technology, to be published before the Directive comes into effect in 2016.

The contract was awarded to Public Health England (PHE), who, upon recommendation by the European Commission, consulted ESR experts to contribute to Annex F of the non-binding guide, titled Guidance on MRI. After more than two years since the publication of the call for drawing up a non-binding guide, on November 11 the European Commission announced the publication of the non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Electromagnetic Fields.

This practical guide will assist employers, particularly small to medium sized enterprises, in understanding what they will need to do to comply with the Directive. It may also be useful for workers, worker representatives, and regulatory authorities in EU Member States, and consists of two volumes as well as a specific guide for SMEs.

The practical guide volume 1, including Annex F,Guidance on MRI, provides advice on carrying out risk assessment and further advice on the options that may be available where employers need to implement additional protective or preventive measures.

Volume 2 presents twelve case studies that show employers how to approach assessments and illustrate some of the preventive and protective measures that might be selected and implemented. The case studies are presented in the context of generic workplaces, but were compiled from real work situations.

The guide for SMEs will assist employers in carrying out an initial assessment of the risks from EMF in their workplaces. Based on the outcome of this assessment, it will help to decide whether there is a need to take any further action as a result of the EMF Directive.

To access all three parts of the non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Electromagnetic Fields (EN), please visit the Rights at work link from the links section. Versions in other languages are expected to be available by the end of this year.

The ESR is pleased that after all these years of multi-stakeholder engagement, the chapter on the EMF Directive 2013/35/EU has been successfully completed.


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