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Resource Hub

Physical Agents Directives

The Physical Agents Directives are a series of European Union Directives requiring similar basic laws throughout the Union on protecting workers from risks to their health and safety. Directives include Vibration, noise and electromagnetic fields.

Vibration

In the UK, the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations implements the European Physical Agents Vibration Directive - 2002/44/EC. It covers both whole body and hand-arm vibration. They do not apply to members of the public exposed to vibration from non-work activities.

Within the UK, the HSE are the lead body and further information can be obtained from Vibration at Work

Noise

In the UK, the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 implements the European Physical Agents Noise Directive - 2003/10/EC. They came into force for all industry sectors in Great Britain on 6 April 2006 (except for the music and entertainment sectors where they came into force on 6 April 2008).

The aim of the Noise Regulations is to ensure that workers' hearing is protected from excessive noise at their place of work, which could cause them to lose their hearing and/or to suffer from tinnitus (permanent ringing in the ears).

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 replace the Noise at Work Regulations 1989.

Within the UK, the HSE are the lead body and further information can be obtained from Noise at Work

Electromagnetic Fields

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) arise whenever electrical energy is used, for example, electrical appliances in the kitchen, from work processes such as radiofrequency heating and drying and from radio, TV and Telecoms broadcasting masts and security detection devices.

The effects caused by EMFs depend on the frequency of the radiation; at low frequencies the effects will be on the central nervous system, higher frequencies may cause heating. The reality is that these are effects are very rare and will not occur in most day-to-day work situations.

The European Union published a Directive in 2008, which delayed the implementation until 2012. In January 2012, a further delaying Directive was suggested, delaying the Directive until 2014.

Additional Information can be found at Non-ionising radiation - The Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF) Directive