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Directive 2013 35 EU in electricity sector

Effects on technical standards development and on electricity sector of the Directive 2013/35/EU on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from electromagnetic fields which shall be adopted by 1 July 2016.

 

The Directive 2013/35/UE was published on July 26th, 2013 after a long consultation process among the different stakeholders. It transposes the current scientific knowledge as summarized by International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in its 2010 Guidelines.

As far as power frequency (50 Hz) electric and magnetic fields are concerned, the Directive defines Exposure Limits Values (ELVs) for health and sensory effects which are limits for electric fields induced in the human body. Moreover, the Directive defines low and high Action Levels (ALs), the magnitude of which are established to ensure by simplified assessment the compliance with relevant ELVs or at which relevant protection or prevention measures must be taken.

In order to fulfill the Directive prescriptions, the European Commission shall publish non-binding practical guides for exposure determination, compliance demonstration and risk assessment. Those guides, which should be published by the end of 2015, will help electricity sector employers to carry out risk evaluation for every worker with reference to the new protection framework. The old risk evaluations shall be updated with reference to the new Directive revising old assessments and/or by new measurements and evaluations. This operation can be done with the help of technical standards developed by European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC).

The relevant European technical standards published by CENELEC (i.e. EN 50499), shall be revised because they were developed with reference to the standardization mandate M351 of the European Commission which derived from the Directive 2004/40/EC that is repealed by the new Directive. New standardization works shall take into account the new limits and the contents of the non-binding guides. Different working groups (WG) in CENELEC CLC/TC106X are working in order to modify relevant standards to the new Directive.

For the electricity sector it is worth mention the WG17 “EMF assessment in the electricity supply industry” that is working to develop a new technical standard for exposure evaluation of electricity industry: production, transmission and distribution that should be circulated as a draft by the mid of  2016.

Davide Capra
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 28.10.2015