Electro Magnetic Radiation Testing on RFID equipment at Port Phillip Library


EMR Testing at St Kilda Library – Alan Butters


When Port Phillip Library was introducing RFID, there was a lot of staff concern regarding electro-magnetic radiation. Australia has standards for this from ARPANSA – the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.


This was the first time that this had been explored in a library environment (to their knowledge). Does RFID meet the appropriate standards in the workplace? The standard for limits on electrical devices is ARPANSA RPS-3. Public limits are stricter and apply to both library staff and users.


Multi-stage testing program was conducted at St Kilda library. They used the independent test house, EMC Technology, to do the work. All FE Technology components were tested.


Stage 1 – testing before the RFID equipment was totally installed and in use.


State 2 – detailed analysis with readings taken at many points within the angles and surrounds of gates, pads, kiosks, completely in and around the devise.


The final report came out in November 2012. The result was that all equipment complied with the requirements of the standard when installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If these guidelines are breached these results are void.  The report is available on the FE User Group website.


Kenneth Harris (formerly of Port Phillip Library)


Kenneth was IT manager at Port Phillip at the time and reported that that when they went to RFID Tender, they knew they had a lot of staff angst. Their previous 3M gates had never been turned on because of the concerns of radiation. The RFID tender required that the vendors meet safe emission levels and all said they did, but there was no real evidence.  Staff were involved in the selection process and chose FE but they were still not happy with the due diligence.


Kenneth advised that you don’t get caught in arguments over what standard to use. Some staff tried to push for the European standard, which is stricter than the Australian. However, they didn’t move forward until they agreed to the Australian standard.


Stage 2 testing took into account overlapping fields and duty cycles . These were tweaked to give both maximum efficiency and safety.


Alan presented them with a summary report (without all the jargon) and  a one page overview which all staff read.


There was a long term concern that duty cycles may change over time resulting in a change to these results. Rama was going to get some devices to monitor this – not yet happened.


Equipment was OK but there was a variation in levels. Some were at the higher end, others lower. They expected that the smart bin would be an issue, but unless you were sitting in the bin itself for any length of time you were fine. They put rubber on either side of the gates and there is requirement that staff don’t sit or work within ½ a metre of them.