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Nonionizing Radiation


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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Self-Inspection Checklist

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This checklist covers regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the general industry standard 29 CFR 1910.97. It applies to exposures to electromagnetic energy of frequencies from 10 megahertz (MHz) to 100 gigahertz (GHz). This includes radio frequency (RF) and microwave radiation. The regulations cited apply only to private employers and their employees, unless adopted by a State agency and applied to other groups such as public employees. A yes answer to a question indicates that this portion of the inspection complies with the OSHA or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard, or with a nonregulatory recommendation. Definitions of terms in bold type are provided at the end of the checklist.

check mark symbol Questions marked with this symbol may require the help of an outside expert.

Nonionizing radiation is a complex technical subject and may be beyond the ability of untrained personnel to evaluate properly. If you suspect or know that nonionizing radiation sources exist, first obtain competent assistance in measuring field strengths, and then complete the following checklist. This checklist does not cover regulations dealing with nonionizing radiation at construction sites. Please use the Noise, Radiation, and Other Exposures for Construction checklist.

  1. check mark symbol Have all possible sources of nonionizing radiation in or near the classroom or work environment been identified? (e.g., RF heat sealers, microwave ovens, radio station transmitting towers, FM radio stations, RF dielectric heaters; communications equipment, and antennas) [recommended]
  2. check mark symbol Have the sources of nonionizing radiation been evaluated by a qualified person (such as an industrial hygienist or health physicist)? [recommended]
  3. check mark symbol Is the radiation protection guide 10 milliwatts per square centimeter power density and 1 milliwatt hour per square centimeter energy density as averaged over any 0.1 hour period? [29 CFR 1910.97(a)(2)(i)]
  4. Have warning signs been posted in and around equipment that emits nonionizing radiation? [29 CFR 1910.145(c)(3)]
  5. check mark symbol Have persons with medical conditions that may be affected by nonionizing radiation (such as those with pacemakers or metallic implants) been identified and evaluated? Have their anticipated exposures been evaluated? [recommended]


Nonionizing radiation: electromagnetic radiation that does not cause ionization in biological systems. Examples of ionizing radiation include X-rays and gamma rays. Examples of nonionizing radiation include ultraviolet, visible, microwave, infrared, and radiofrequency radiation.