In the UK, Public Health England (PHE) takes the lead on public health matters associated with radio frequency electromagnetic fields and has a statutory duty to provide advice to Government on any health effects that may be caused by exposure to EMF. PHE’s main advice is that EMF exposure should comply with the Guidelines. These are referred to as “general public EMF limits”.
In February and October last year, OFCOM carried out two public consultations for the proposal to advise of the formalities to comply with the internationally agreed levels in the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines for the protection of the general public from electromagnetic fields (EMF)*. In normal conditions, most uses of the radio spectrum for wireless communications present no health risk to humans – but exposure to very high levels of radio frequency EMF can be harmful.
On 18 May 2021, OFCOM published their General Notice of Final Decision (PDF). This General Notice gives a large majority of licensees formal notice of their final decision to vary radio communications licences. This Guidance applies to licensees that are subject to an EMF condition in their spectrum licence(s). A failure to take this Guidance into account can constitute a breach of an EMF condition and may result in Ofcom taking enforcement action.
All licensees currently allowed to transmit at powers above 10 Watts EIRP or 6.1 Watts ERP will need to ensure they comply with the EMF licence condition. This means you may need to carry out an assessment to check that your radio equipment operates within the general public EMF limits set by ICNIRP.
Ofcom have created an EMF calculator to help support and work out a compliance distance. This will clarify the distance you need between the antenna of your radio equipment and the general public to ensure your compliance with the general public EMF limits. In general, higher powers will result in larger compliance distances. Radiocoms can support clients in the assessment to ensure you are meeting the requirements, and should you not, offer a solution.
Other acceptable methods of carrying out an assessment are included in Section 6 of their Guidance on EMF Compliance and Enforcement. You’ll also need to keep evidence showing how you comply.
Any users of radio communications equipment must be able to provide records that demonstrate they now comply with OFCOM’s EMF limits. Ofcom state examples of what they may accept as an acceptable appropriate record include one or more of the following:
A full list of acceptable records is available in Section 12 of their Guidance on EMF Compliance and Enforcement.
If you have equipment operating in multiple locations, you can keep a central record of the manufacturer’s guidance, calculations or measurements you’ve used to demonstrate your equipment at each site is operating within the rules. You don’t have to have a copy of this at each individual site.
If you are using the same compliance record for multiple sites, then you should be able to demonstrate why that is appropriate, for example because you have the same equipment which is set up and operates in exactly the same way at each site.
Following the publication of OFCOM’s final decision over the coming weeks they will inform and update licencees and provide you with information on where your new version can be obtained.
If you are seeking clarification or have received a notification from OFCOM stating you do not comply, please contact Radiocoms Systems Ltd who can provide you with support and the necessary adjustments to ensure you are compliant.
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