Novel modelling study on magnetic field exposure of hand-forearm region

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The Austrian workers compensation board (AUVA) funded and accompanied a research project that has recently been finalized.

The project was conducted by a team around Gernot Schmid at Seibersdorf Laboratories, Austria. Under the title „Assessment of localized magnetic field exposure of hands at workplaces“ novel, custom-made hand models and state-of-the art modelling of the skin for assessing exposure during work close to sources of strong magnetic fields, have been established.

Exposure scenarios under survey have been e.g. manual workflows at induction heating devices, welding (holding a cable, welding gun, or the workpiece) and deactivation of tags of electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems. Generation of the computerized hand model involved detailed Magnetic Resonance Imaging. With those models, inconsistencies in numerical simulations, for example when dealing with dosimetry for metal-to-skin contact (“holding a workpiece”) could be avoided and applicable action levels for limbs could be validated with uncharted accuracy.

Based on the results some exposure situations such as grabbing a 50 Hz power cable or occupational exposure to an EAS deactivator may be considered compliant to EU directive 2013/35/EU – as compared to partly unclear dosimetry previously available. For other exposure situations such as manual capacitor discharge stud welding, results of this project indicate that violation of the directive’s exposure limit values is likely.

Figure 1: Novel hand-Forearm model holding a welding cable: The blue line shows the path of the welding current; the color coding represents the induced electric field on the surface of the model (Image from AUVA Report R80).

Contact: Dr. Klaus Schiessl (klaus.schiessl@auva.at).

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