Exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields)

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Становище на ЕИСК: Exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields)

Key points

  • The EESC recommends that this directive be adopted and implemented in the legislation of Member States as soon as possible.
  • However, the Committee is in favour of a precautionary approach being adopted without delay, given the risks of the non-thermal biological effects of emissions from electromagnetic fields. The long-term health of workers must be completely guaranteed at a high level through the introduction of the best available technologies at economically acceptable costs. The Committee expects a relevant provision to be incorporated into the directive.
  • The EESC supports the Commission's initiative to fix thresholds so as to make this precautionary approach effective and credible; however, to ensure that this is absolutely effective it advocates fixed thresholds based on the thresholds applied when Directive 2004/40/EC was transposed (by Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Italy).
  • The Committee stresses the need to strengthen the independence of scientific bodies involved in determining thresholds for workers' exposure to electromagnetic radiation, its effects and its consequences for public health, and in establishing measures to protect the health of workers exposed to this radiation. It is essential to put a stop to conflicts of interest among members of these bodies, linked to the financing of their research and their appointment (procedures and calls for tender, use of independent public research institutes).
  • The Committee concedes the need for a derogation for professions using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for medical purposes, which should however be subject to a time limit and accompanied by additional resources for research into new technologies to protect workers from the effects of electromagnetic fields and alternative techniques. Workers subject to the derogation should be covered by enhanced measures to protect them, special medical supervision and civil liability insurance to cover errors in the execution of their work arising from strong exposure to electromagnetic fields. The Committee also feels that the above-mentioned principles should be applied not only to medical workers, but also to all other workers who may be excluded from the general principles of the directive on the basis of the derogation included in Article 3 of the proposal.