It has brought a host of new challenges for employers working with ionising radiation, which now extends to operators of mines and quarries. Ionising radiation is radiation consisting of particles, X-rays, or gamma rays with sufficient energy to cause ionisation in the medium through which it passes. Ionising radiation can present a health hazard if proper control measures are not put in place to limit and prevent exposure. It has many industrial, military and medical uses. Recently there have been key changes to the regulations. IRR17 provides new responsibilities for employees so that the burden of working safely with ionising radiation is shared in a more balanced way between employer and employee.
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It has brought a host of new challenges for employers working with ionising radiation, which now extends to operators of mines and quarries. Ionising radiation is radiation consisting of particles, X-rays, or gamma rays with sufficient energy to cause ionisation in the medium through which it passes.
Ionising radiation can present a health hazard if proper control measures are not put in place to limit and prevent exposure. It has many industrial, military and medical uses. Recently there have been key changes to the regulations. IRR17 provides new responsibilities for employees so that the burden of working safely with ionising radiation is shared in a more balanced way between employer and employee.
Notification to the HSE One of the main changes is the introduction of a risk-based approach to notifications to the HSE of work with ionising radiation. The IRR17 replaces the IRR99 requirement of notification and prior authorisation with a three-tier system: Notification - lowest risk Registration - medium risk Consent - highest risk The requirement to notify now starts at a lower level of activity so that more employers will need to inform the HSE. Notification will apply to any work with ionising radiation that does not require registration or consent.
For example, work with radiation generators such as X-Ray devices, do not require notification but do require registration. Change in radon reference level There is an amendment to the radon reference level from BQ m -3 over 24 hours to BQ m -3 at an annual average activity. This difference is minimal in practice however; as calculations have shown that the IIR99 radon reference level is broadly equivalent to the annual average reference level in IRR This means that any person carrying out services in a controlled area or supervised area but who does not have an individual contract of employment with the employer responsible for that area.
Employers are responsible for making sure that both employees and outside workers understand the risks associated with their work and what they are required to do to control them. Public protection measures There is now a requirement to put procedures in place to estimate doses of exposure to members of the public, when it is anticipated that they are likely to be exposed to direct radiation or contamination. Where employers anticipate this could occur, they should apply a dose constraint that has been recommended to not exceed 0.
This is especially important for healthcare employers to take note of, due to the chance of the public being exposed to ionising radiation, via a patient who has received ionising radiation treatment. Changes in healthcare IRR17 has brought several new changes specific to ionising radiation in healthcare. Such changes include reducing the dose limit in the lens of the eye for employees from mSv to 20 mSv a year. There is some flexibility with this as it can be averaged over a 5-year period.
New obligations for employees Under the new regime, employees must not knowingly expose themselves or others more than necessary for the purposes of their work, and they must exercise reasonable care.
This duty applies to both employees and outside workers — however, employers have to ensure that both employees and outside workers understand how they can keep themselves safe.
Comment The introduction of IRR17 has brought more challenges for employers. In particular getting to grips with the new three-tier system and knowing when to notify, register or gain consent from the HSE. In addition is the added responsibility for non-classified workers and members of the public. To ensure that employers are compliant they should make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk to employees and others before commencing a new activity with ionising radiation.
These regulations will continue to apply even after Brexit, unless a decision is taken to alter them.
Radiation legal base
Equivalent dose for the hands, forearms, feet and ankles mSv 50 mSv A Controlled Area is most likely to be required if: There is foreseeable access to the area for people whose work does not normally involve radiation. Dose-rates from external radiation and potential levels of contamination from radioactive materials during normal work are likely to be significant. Substantial external dose-rates or high levels of contamination surface or airborne can be expected in the event of a failure of control measures. Normal control measures for an area have to be suspended for work such as maintenance or source changing.
Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (IR(ME)R)
Employers can find practical help in Work with ionising radiation: Ionising Radiations Regulations Approved code of practice and guidance. IRR17 applies to a large range of workplaces where radioactive substances and electrical equipment emitting ionising radiation are used. They also apply to work with natural radiation, including work in which people are exposed to naturally occurring radon gas and its decay products. Any employer who undertakes work with ionising radiation must comply with IRR
Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017: guidance
IRR17: What are the Changes to Ionising Radiation Regulations?