Exemptions from exposure limits in the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 (CEMFAW Regulations)

Exemptions from certain exposure limits in the CEMFAW Regulations include those issued by HSE the MRI exemption for medical purposes and the military exemption.

Exemptions issued by HSE

Regulation 13(1) of CEMFAW Regulations grants the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) power to exempt employers from the exposure limits contained in the Regulations. Any exemption will be subject to safety conditions. It should be remembered that exposure limits are not a line between safe and dangerous exposures.

If HSE exempts an activity from the exposure limits, you as the employer must ensure that:

  • exposure is as low as is reasonably practicable; and
  • employees are protected against the health effects and safety risks arising from that exposure.    

Certificate of Exemption

HSE has published an exemption certificate detailing the activities which are exempt from the exposure limits, subject to the necessary conditions being met.

You will not be required to use measurements or calculations in your exposure assessment, or undertake an action plan, in relation to activities which are included in the exemption. All other requirements of the regulations still apply to that work activity.

If the work activity is exempted, you do not have to apply to HSE to use the exemption. An individual certificate for your business/organisation is not necessary. You may wish to down load a copy of the exemption certificate for your records. It is your responsibility to meet the conditions attached to the exemption. If you don't, or can't, meet the conditions then the exemption will not apply.

You must still carry out (and periodically review) a risk assessment identifying all direct and indirect risks, confirming that they are eliminated where possible. Relevant information and training must be given to workers.

HSE may review and revoke exemptions at any time.

Exempting activities not on the current HSE Exemption certificate

If you carry out a work activity that is not included in HSE's certificate of exemption but think it should be, an application for the activity to be included can be submitted to HSE.  Remember you will not be applying for an exemption for your business/organisation but for the activity itself. If the activity applied for is then included on HSE's exemption certificate it will be available to all employers subject to meeting the necessary safety conditions.      

The request should include the following:

  1. Nature of the work activity - An explanation of what process is carried out and why it is not possible to meet the exposure limits.
  2. Description of equipment - outlining frequencies, emissions, power levels etc. and what measures are taken regarding equipment and operator positioning and any operator screening.
  3. Description of operating cycles - providing information on duty-cycles,  shifts, or the temporary nature of the exposure can support a case for exemption
  4. An account of preventative actions taken - demonstrating how measures to ensure 'lowest levels reasonably practicable' have been devised and implemented.
  5. Why continuing the work activity is essential to business - whether commercial or otherwise.

(This list is not exhaustive - any additional information considered relevant to the case but not specifically mentioned here should also be submitted).

HSE may review and revoke exemptions at any time.

Applications for a work activity to be submitted to HSE should be sent by e-mail to the Radiation policy team.

HSE will send acknowledgement of receipt of application additional information may be requested by HSE.

HSE will aim to make a decision within 12 weeks of receipt of all information required.

MRI exemption for medical purposes

The exposure limit requirements of the CEMFAW Regulations do not apply during the development, testing, installation, use and maintenance of, or research related to, MRI equipment for patients in the health sector, where:

  • the exposure of employees to EMFs is as low as is reasonably practicable; and
  • employees are protected against the health effects and safety risks related to that exposure.

You will need to comply with all other requirements of the CEMFAW Regulations, except the requirement to develop an action plan.

For more information see European Commission (EC) Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU: Electromagnetic Fields;  and Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance: MRI equipment in clinical use

Military exemption

The exposure limit requirements of the CEMFAW Regulations do not apply to any activity in respect of which a suitable and sufficient alternative exposure limitation system is in place where the activity is carried out:

  • by a person acting in the capacity of a member of either Her Majesty's armed forces or a visiting force;
  • by any civilian working with such a person; or
  • on any premises or part of premises under the control of the Secretary of State for the purposes of the Ministry of Defence or the service authorities of a visiting force.

The other requirements of the Regulations, except the requirement to produce an action plan, apply in full.

For MRI use not related to patients in the health sector and military activities not covered by the exemption where exposure limits may be exceeded, more information can be found in A guide to the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 (HSG 281).

Is this page useful?

Updated 2021-08-24