Ionising radiations occurs as either electromagnetic rays (such as X-rays and gamma rays) or particles (such as alpha and beta particles). It occurs naturally (e.g. from the radioactive decay of natural radioactive substances such as radon gas and its decay products) but can also be produced artificially. People can be exposed externally, to radiation from a radioactive material or a generator such as an X-ray set, or internally, by inhaling or ingesting radioactive substances. Wounds that become contaminated by radioactive material can also cause radioactive exposure.
Everyone receives some exposure to natural background radiation and much of the population also has the occasional medical or dental X-ray. HSE is concerned with the control of exposure to radiation arising from the use of radioactive materials and radiation generators in work activities in the nuclear industry; medical and dental practice; manufacturing; construction; engineering; paper; offshore drilling; education (colleges, schools) and non-destructive testing.
The main legal requirements enforced by HSE are detailed in the Work with ionising radiation: Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 Approved code of practice and guidance. More information is available via the Legal Base page.