National Register of Radiofrequency Workers: Exploring health eff ects of occupational radiofrequency radiation exposure


Ian Litchfi eld

Background: Radiofrequency (RF) radiation continues to proliferate in the workplace. However, there is a broadly acknowledged need for additional research exploring the potential health effects of occupational exposure to RF. Aims: The aim was to establish a register of workers occupationally exposed to RF, in line with the recommendation of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones. This database is to be used as a resource for the investigation of any potential health effects of RF exposure. Methods: Following a series of consultations with industry and other relevant organizations, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established a Steering Group in 2002 to manage the establishment of the National Register of individuals potentially exposed above public RF exposure guidelines. The Steering Group selected the University of Birmingham to administer the recruitment process. Recruitment and the first wave of analysis are due to finish in 2015. Results: The recruitment of a cohort of some 2500 individuals is near completion, and the initial study, a long-term follow-up of the cohort investigating mortality and cancer incidence is underway. Conclusions: The National Register of RF Workers provides the basis to explore potentially adverse health outcomes from occupational RF exposure. Funded by, key industry sponsors and supported by the University of Birmingham and HSE, the collaborative nature of the register provides an exemplar of how studies of occupational health can continue to be funded and managed.