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Exposure to artificial optical radiation

The European Union (EU) lays down minimum harmonised requirements for the protection of workers against the risks arising from exposure to artificial optical radiation (e.g. UVA, laser, etc.)

ACT

Directive 2006/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to risks arising from physical agents (artificial optical radiation) (19th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC).

SUMMARY

This Directive is part of a "package" of four Directives regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents: noise, vibration, electromagnetic fields and optical radiation.

This is a Directive under framework Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.

Risks of optical radiation and scope

The exposure of workers to artificial optical radiation *, laser *, laser radiation * and non-coherent radiation * can have chronic adverse effects on the eyes and skin.

This Directive reduces the level of exposure to this radiation firstly by the introduction of preventive measures in the design of workstations, in order to reduce the risks at source. It also fixes exposure limit values for workers exposed to non-coherent radiation and laser radiation (Annex 2).

Obligations of employers

  • Assessment of the level of radiation.
    Firstly, the employer assesses or measures the levels of optical radiation to which employees are exposed so that they can be reduced if they exceed the applicable limits. He measures them on the basis of the standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Commission on Illumination (CEI) and the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) or, failing that, using available national or international science-based guidelines.
  • Reduction of the risks.
    Secondly, the employer must reduce the level of radiation if the assessment indicates any possibility that the exposure limit values have been exceeded, for example by choosing a different material or limiting the duration of exposure.
  • Worker information and training.
    The workers or their representatives receive the necessary information and training, for example in the use of protective equipment.
  • Consultation and participation of workers.
    Employers must consult workers or their representatives in advance with regard to the protection of the safety and health of workers. They may propose measures to improve this protection and even enlist the competent authorities if they consider that the health protection offered by the employer is not adequate (in accordance with framework Directive 89/391/EEC).

Health surveillance

The health of workers is subject to surveillance carried out by a doctor, as is any risk arising from exposure to optical radiation, in accordance with the relevant national legislation.

Health records are made for each worker and updated after each health check. On request, individual workers may have access to their own personal health records.

Harmful effects and/or exceeding of limit values

In the event of exposure exceeding the limit values, a medical examination is automatically made available to the workers. If the limit values have been exceeded and/or the workers have suffered harmful effects to their health:

  • the worker is informed by the doctor or qualified person of the results relating to him and any significant findings;
  • the employer reviews the risk assessment and the measures taken, implements the measures recommended by the competent persons and establishes a continuous surveillance system.

Penalties

The Member States must provide for appropriate penalties if the national provisions adopted pursuant to the Directive have been infringed.

Reports

Every five years, the Member States provide the Commission with a report on the practical implementation of this Directive, including the opinions of the social partners.

Every five years, the Commission informs the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work of its assessment of these reports.

Key terms used in the act

  • Optical radiation: any electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range between 100 nm and 1 mm.
    The spectrum of optical radiation is divided into ultraviolet radiation (UVA, UVB and UVC), visible radiation and infrared radiation.
  • Laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation): any device which can produce or amplify electromagnetic radiation in the optical radiation wavelength range primarily by the process of controlled stimulated emission.
  • Laser radiation: optical radiation from a laser.
  • Non-coherent radiation: any optical radiation other than laser radiation.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/25/ECE

27.04.2006

27.04.2010

OJ L 114 of 27.04.2006

Last updated: 30.10.2006
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