Two welding workers

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Welding work is associated with radiation emissions: both optical radiation and electromagnetic fields can endanger the safety and health of workers
Source: IFA

For many people, the term "radiation" has negative connotations. The hazards of radioactive radiation are known, and radiation from mobile phones, for example, is a cause for concern. In physics, the term "radiation" is used much more generally for the dissipation of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves of widely differing wavelength. It thus encompasses a range of forms of radiation such as radio waves, visible light and hard X-ray radiation.

Altogether, radiation can be divided into two main groups: ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. This distinction is based upon the ability of the radiation to ionize atoms or molecules, i.e. to release an electron from them.

Non-ionizing radiation (NIR) can in turn be divided into optical radiation (OS) and electromagnetic fields (EMF). Its impact upon human beings includes both desired and undesired effects.

  • Optical radiation

    Optical radiation

    The Optical radiation unit deals with electromagnetic radiation in the waveband from 100 nm (ultraviolet radiation) to 1 mm (far infrared).

    German Optical Radiation Ordinance (OStrV)

    EU Directive 2006/25/EC (PDF, 802,6 KB), defining minimum requirements for the protection of workers against artificial optical radiation, has been in force since April 2006. In order to support implementation of the directive at national level, a guide (PDF, 2,55 MB) intended for the Member States is available.

    The German Optical Radiation Ordinance (PDF, 64,6 KB) of 27 July 2010 transposes the EU Directive into German law by way of an amending ordinance. Since optical radiation can be subdivided further into incoherent and coherent (laser) radiation, dedicated technical rules have been developed for each type.

  • Electromagnetic fields

    Electromagnetic fields

    The Electromagnetic fields unit is concerned with static electric, static magnetic and dynamic electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields with frequencies of up to 300 gigahertz.

    German OSH Ordinance on Electromagnetic Fields (EMFV)

    EU Directive 2013/35/EU (PDF, 883 KB), defining minimum requirements for the protection of workers against electromagnetic fields, has been in force since June 2013. In order to support implementation of the directive at national level, a guide (PDF, 455 KB)intended for the Member States is available.

    The OSH Ordinance on Electromagnetic Fields (EMFV) (PDF, 134 KB) of 15 November 2016 transposes the EU directive into German law by way of an amending ordinance. Technical rules specifying the provisions of the EMFV in further detail will be developed in the future.



    Measurements are one means by which workplaces can be assessed. However, measurements involving hundreds of persons distributed randomly throughout Germany present major difficulties for the metrological services. Besides the high supervision overhead, the logistics of collecting the data also constitute a tremendous challenge. These difficulties increase exponentially when measurements are to be performed not merely briefly - perhaps for one day – but over several months. The test subjects face an even greater task: they must ensure that measurements are performed reliably and correctly, every day. The measurement system must therefore be designed such that it presents no significant disruption to occupational tasks and places only minor technical demands at the end of the working shift.

    With the GENESIS measurement system, the IFA has created the means for measurements to be performed decentrally in campaigns on any scale.

    GENESIS stands for GENeration and Extraction System for Individual expoSure. In the system, a front end (instrument) records data which are processed by a back end (data transfer system) and delivered to a database.

    Particular attention was paid in the design of the system to its ease of use, in order for the participating test subjects to have to cope with as little technical overhead as possible.



    The current application of the system has the function of measuring exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation during occupational activity. For this purpose, all participating test subjects are equipped with a GENESIS-UV measuring unit. This consists essentially of an electronic data logger/dosimeter and a tablet. The system is programmed to record data automatically during the relevant hours of the day. As standard, this means from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. At the end of a working week, the test subjects connect the dosimeter to the tablet. Entry of a password causes the data to be read out and transferred automatically, a process which takes only a few seconds. The data are transferred in encrypted form via mobile service or WLAN to a central database server, where they are stored and forwarded to the IFA. Up-to-date measured values are received in this way at weekly intervals from all regions in Germany, and technical faults are immediately apparent upon inspection of the data. Should no Internet or mobile connection be available at the user's location of residence or work, the data are stored on the tablet. The system can therefore also be operated fully autonomously with individual units.

    Once the data have been transferred, the dosimeter can be recharged again from the tablet.

    Information on GENESIS-UV


Claudine Strehl, M.Sc.

Ergonomics, Physical environmental factors

Tel: +49 30 13001-3470
Fax: +49 30 13001-38001