Electromagnetic fields: key topics and projects

Picture of an eletrolysis furnace

Zoom Image

Aluminium electrolysis furnace: a known source of high-strength static magnetic fields
Source: IFA

Electromagnetic fields are generated wherever a voltage is present or current flows. Employees working at electrical equipment and installations can therefore always be assumed to be exposed to electromagnetic fields. The exposure of office workers to fields generated by electrical office equipment, such as computers, monitors, etc., is negligible owing to the low field strengths of these devices. Other field sources, for example on industrial installations for induction hardening and melting or on welding equipment, may however give rise to substantially higher field strengths that require more precise examination.

The biological effect of electromagnetic fields depends in the first instance upon their frequency and type (magnetic field, electric field or electromagnetic field). Further information on this topic can be found in Research Report FB400-E concerning electromagnetic fields at the workplace. This report discusses in detail the physical and physiological issues underlying human exposure to electromagnetic fields


Picture of a low-voltage distribution installation and a man measuring the electromagnetic fields

Zoom Image

Measurement of the electromagnetic fields on a low-voltage distribution installation
Source: IFA

If the exposure cannot be determined and evaluated based upon manufacturers' information, comparison with installations of the same type or simple analytical calculations, measurements must be performed. The results of the evaluation serve as the basis for assessment of possible hazards to the safety and health of workers at the workplace and for determining the necessary protective measures.

Workplaces at which workers with passive or active implants work must be considered separately in the risk assessment. In particular, electromagnetic fields may influence active implants such that the health of the affected individual is impaired. A dedicated evaluation of exposure at these individuals' workplaces is therefore absolutely essential. Individual accident insurance institutions and the IFA offer expert advice on the subject.

The findings and experience gained from the on-site measurements serve as valuable information that is used in the setting of regulations and limit values.

In turn, the results of projects based upon the situation within industry feed back into day-to-day practice.


Contact

Ingo Bömmels

Division 4: Ergonomics, Physical environmental factors

Tel: +49 2241 231-2826
Fax: +49 2241 231-2234


Carsten Alteköster

Division 4: Ergonomics, Physical environmental factors

Tel: +49 2241 231-2826
Fax: +49 2241 231-2234


Claudine Neumann, M.Sc.

Division 4: Ergonomics, Physical environmental factors

Tel: +49 2241 231-2826
Fax: +49 2241 231-2234