1649c The problem of the workers at particular risk

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Abstract

The directive 2013/35/EU on minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to risks arising from electromagnetic fields (EMF) states that the risk assessment and the implementation of preventive and protective measures have to take into account the workers at particular risk. Apart workers implanted with active or passive medical devices or wearing medical devices and pregnant women, the directive does not explicitly recognise other categories of workers at potential higher risk due to EMF exposure. Workers with active implanted medical devices (pacemakers in particular) are addressed by ad hoc technical standards (EN 50527–1:2010–04 and EN 50527–2–1:2011–05). In EU, active implantable and wearable medical devices must comply with requirements specified in technical standards, usually followed by the manufacturers. However, despite the growing diffusion of the active implantable or wearable medical devices and their diversification in terms of types and medical indications, other technical standards specifically devoted to workers carrying these devices and exposed to EMF are not yet available. For passive implanted medical devices, the risk assessment has to be performed mainly based on the available scientific literature. The case of pregnant women deserves special considerations while biological and pathological conditions making the worker at potential higher risk with respect to other workers at comparable exposure levels are still object of debate. Overall, the topic of workers at particular risk exposed to EMF is an open question and has to be managed case by case using a combination of information sources: directive itself, exposure assessment in the workplace, technical standards, findings of workers’ health surveillance, information acquired by the general practitioner or specialists having in care the worker, data from the manufacturer of the devices (e.g. technical sheets or instruction manuals), scientific literature etc.

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