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Product Code: ILSC2009_405

A Non-binding Guide to the Artificial Optical Radiation Directive
John O'Hagan, Health Protection Agency; Didcot Great Britain
Andy Pearson, Health Protection Agency; Didcot Great Britain
Marina Khazova, Health Protection Agency; Didcot Great Britain
Presented at ILSC 2009

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union published the Artificial Optical Radiation Directive in April 2006. Member States have until April 2010 to introduce national law implementing the Directive. This Directive is one of a series covering the safety of so-called physical agents: the others cover noise, vibration and electromagnetic fields.

The Directive requires employers to assess the risks to their employees from exposure to optical radiation from all artificial sources. Only natural sources, such as the sun, are excluded. For the first time, the UK will have legally-binding exposure limits for optical radiation. It is important to recognise that the Directive does not consider non-employees, such as patients and the public.

One of the challenges that will face employers is that the scope of the Directive is so broad. Office lighting and display systems that emit optical radiation will have to be assessed, along with optical sources used for diagnosis and treatment in the medical sector. The Directive does not necessarily require measurements to be made, so the assessment can include calculations or the use of data provided by, for example, the manufacturer.

The UK Health Protection Agency was contracted by the European Commission to produce a non-binding guide to the Directive, primarily aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises. However, it is hoped that the guide will also be of value for larger organisations.

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