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Radiation Protection News

(formerly The Radiation Protection Adviser) incorporating ADS News

Issue 20 November 2001


Welcome to the twentieth edition of Radiation Protection News which aims to clarify areas of concern and update readers on further developments in the field of ionising radiation.

Please send any comments and queries to Ionising Radiation Policy Unit, Health and Safety Executive, Level


The Ionising Radiations Advisory Committee (IRAC) Open meeting

The Ionising Radiations Advisory Committee (IRAC) held its open meeting on 10 October 2001 at HSE's London office at Rose Court.

The meeting provided attendees with an opportunity to see how the Committee worked, to ask questions and to take part in discussion. It included presentations covering IRAC's role, its work and a forward look to radiation protection in the next decade.


Revised HSE Statement on Radiation Protection Advisers

Following the review of the HSE Statement on radiation protection advisers (RPAs), a revised Statement has been signed which will come into effect on 1 December 2001. From that date, the revised Statement will be available on HSE's ionising radiation webpages.

The purpose of RPA recognition is to give employers confidence in the core competence of individuals and RPA bodies when selecting RPAs suitable for their purpose. Comments received during the recent review suggested that some of the requirements of the current Statement related more to suitability. The revised Statement has therefore refocused the requirements for establishing core competence of RPAs. The main amendments to the Statement are as follows: 

In view of the above changes, the two Assessing Bodies presently recognised by HSE (RPA 2000 and BNFL) will be amending their assessment procedures and supporting documentation to comply with the requirements of the revised Statement. HSE will also be revising in the New Year its guidance on the criteria of competence for RPA bodies and on the requirements for RPA assessing bodies, as well as considering any further guidance which might be required.


The Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR) come into force.

The Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR) which deal with planning for emergencies involving radiation releases, came into force on 20 September 2001. The Regulations will be enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). For licensed nuclear sites REPPIR will not replace existing nuclear site conditions but compliance with the conditions will satisfy equivalent provisions in REPPIR.

 REPPIR implement the emergency preparedness aspects of the European Basic Safety Standards (BSS) Directive (96/29/Euratom) title IX, Section 1 (articles 48 to 52) for fixed sites and some transport operations (i.e. rail transport and transferring or conveying radioactive substances across a public place by other than standard transport modes, e.g. a fork-lift truck). Separate legislation will cover emergency preparedness for the other transport modes. The Directive sets out the basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. The majority of the Directive was implemented through the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999, which came into effect on 1 January 2000.

 Interim guidance on REPPIR is available. The main guidance is planned to be published by the end of the year. Workshops are planned for late January 2002 in five separate locations.

REPPIR include a new provision for local authorities to charge nuclear operators for the preparation and regular review of off-site emergency plans, and for their testing, including the costs of testing incurred by the emergency services. This provision parallels an earlier provision in the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999 for major hazard sites.

REPPIR replace and consolidate aspects of the requirements of the Public Information for Radiation Emergencies Regulations (PIRER) 1992 which implemented Directive 89/618/Euratom on informing the general public about health protection measures to be applied and steps to be taken in the event of a radiation emergency.


Approval of dosimetry services for the purposes of emergency exposures

Under REPPIR, emergency plans may allow for intervention personnel to be authorised to receive emergency exposures, which can exceed normal dose limits. Levels have to be laid down above which emergency exposures would not normally be allowed to go, except for authorised volunteers for the purpose of saving human life. REPPIR require that employers of intervention personnel make arrangements with an approved dosimetry service (ADS) for the assessment of doses during emergency exposures, and for the separate recording of such doses in dose records.

HSE has issued a supplement to its Requirements for the Approval of Dosimetry Services setting out new requirements and criteria for approval of dosimetry services under REPPIR. Already a number of dosimetry services, approved under IRR99, are being assessed for additional approval under REPPIR. It is expected that the names of services approved under REPPIR will be listed on the HSE website soon. If any other dosimetry services would like to apply for such approval, they should refer to the HSE Statement on the approval of dosimetry services or contact the Dosimetry Services Administrator at:

Health & Safety Executive, Physical Agents Unit,
Magdalen House, Trinity Road, Bootle, Merseyside L20 3QZ


Amendments to the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 are amended by the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR) Regulation 21 and Schedule

The changes to IRR99 are described below:

1.

In regulation 21(3)(i), the word "to" is inserted before "maintain". This makes the provision consistent with the other subparagraphs of this regulation.

2.

Regulation 35(1) is amended so that dosimetry services may be approved for the purposes of the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001.

3.

After regulation 35, a new regulation is inserted for legal reasons to make provisions of IRR99 which are made using powers in the European Communities Act 1972 enforceable in the same way as the provisions made using powers in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It reads as follows: -  

" Enforcement

35A. Insofar as any provision of regulation 21 is made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, sections - 

 (a) 16 to 21 (approval of codes of practice and enforcement);

 (b) 23 (provisions supplementary to sections 21 and 22) and 24 (appeal against improvement or prohibition notice), so far as they relate to an improvement notice;

 (c) 26 (power to indemnify inspectors); and

 (d) 33 to 42 (provisions as to offences),

of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 shall apply to that provision as if that provision had been made under section 15 of that Act."

4.

Paragraph (7) of regulation 36 is deleted and the following substituted - 

    " (7) Where a contravention of these Regulations by any person is due to the act or default of some other person, that other person shall be guilty of the offence which would, but for any defence under this regulation available to the first-mentioned person, be constituted by the act or default.".

5.

Paragraph 6 of Schedule 4 is clarified by inserting the words "referred to in paragraphs 1 or 3" after the word "trainee".

6.

An error in paragraph 19 of Schedule 4 is corrected by substituting "in accordance with regulation 11(1)" in place of "pursuant to regulation 11(2)".

7.

A typographical error in column 1 of Schedule 8 is corrected by substituting under the entry for Ruthenium, "Ru-106+" in place of "Ru-160+".


Control of Radioactive Substances: new guidance

On 1 November HSE published a new information sheet in the Ionising Radiations Protection Series. This guidance supplements Work with ionising radiation, L121, which contains the Approved Code of Practice and guidance.

The Information Sheet, Control of Radioactive Substances (IRIS 8) is aimed at users of radioactive substances who are subject to the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) regulations 27 to 30 or the Ionising Radiations Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 (IRR(NI)2000) and who also hold registrations or authorisations under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93). This guidance has been written in association with the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Environment and Heritage Service and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland.

This information sheet outlines some areas of similarity between IRR99, IRR(NI)2000 and RSA93 and indicates the standards which will satisfy both sets of requirements. It also provides information on the European legislation controlling shipments of radioactive substances between EU Member States.


Medical Exposure: new HSE guidance

On 14 November HSE published guidance on the regulatory requirements for medical exposure to ionising radiation aimed at senior managers including Directors and clinicians, within the medical sector. This includes Chief Executives of hospitals in the NHS and private sector as well as other medical users of ionising radiation.

The regulatory requirements for medical exposure to ionising radiation: an employer's overview HSG223 is available from HSE's website

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000 (IR(ME)R 2000) require an employer to manage the radiation protection of patients, employees, patients' families, and the general public.

Both IRR99 and IR(ME)R 2000 apply to any employer who uses ionising radiation for medical purposes. This means any employer who undertakes medical exposures (e.g. diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy etc.) or whose employees carry out medical exposures or provide health care for patients who have been administered radioactive medicinal products.

The guidance has been written in association with the Department of Health, The National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Executive, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (Northern Ireland) and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland.

The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) (S.I. 1999 No 3232) and the Health Departments in England, Scotland and Wales are responsible for the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000 (IR(ME)R 2000) (S.I. 2000 No 1059).

In Northern Ireland the equivalent regulations are the Ionising Radiations Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 (IRR(NI)2000) and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 (IR(ME)R(NI)2000). The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland is the responsible authority for IRR(NI)2000 and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (Northern Ireland) is responsible for IR(ME)R(NI)2000.

Chief Executives, Directors and line managers have clearly defined responsibilities for health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (referred to as the Act). Both IRR99 and IR(ME)R 2000 are enforced under the Act. In Northern Ireland the equivalent legislation to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.


Monitoring Instruments: new HSE guidance

On 1 November HSE published a new free Information sheet in the Ionising Radiation Protection Series. This guidance supplements Work with ionising radiation, L121, which contains the Approved Code of Practice and guidance.

The Information Sheet, Selection, use and maintenance of portable monitoring instruments (IRIS 7) gives advice to employers on their need to ensure that levels of ionising radiation in controlled or supervised areas are adequately monitored. This is to:

The tables included in the information sheet provide guidance on suitable monitoring instruments for different radiation sources and workplace applications. These tables are based on a National Radiological Protection Board report - Guidance on the Choice, Use and Maintenance of Hand-held Radiation Monitoring Equipment.

Employers must ensure that levels of ionising radiation are adequately monitored for areas designated as controlled or supervised, and for this employers must provide suitable and sufficient equipment that must be properly maintained, tested and examined. They also need to keep records of monitoring and of the testing of monitoring equipment (IRR99 reg 19).


Performance tests for fast neutron dosimetry services

A new performance test has been introduced for dosimetry services engaged in measurement and assessment of doses from fast neutron radiation. All new applicants for approval for such services are now required to undertake a performance test prior to approval. Existing approved dosimetry services are also required to undertake such a test, and are given 6 months to complete the test.

HSE has for many years required other types of dosimetry service seeking approval to undertake performance tests. Thereafter, those approved dosimetry services (ADS) must repeat the test at no longer than 18 month intervals. Tests are arranged through a UKAS-accredited test laboratory and copies of the test certificates are sent to HSE. However, until recently no test had been developed for ADS measuring fast neutron radiation. The new test was developed for HSE by the National Radiological Protection Board in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory.

HSE consulted dosimetry services and other interested organisations recently about the introduction of this test. There was unqualified support for the introduction of the test from those who responded. John Gill, HSE's Programme Manager for the approval of dosimetry services, said: "The results of this consultation showed that there is a great deal of support from ADS for the introduction of this performance test. It was particularly gratifying to find that existing approved services, who would now be required to undertake this test, felt that the test was fair and the pass/fail criteria were reasonable."


Personal Dosimetry: The Duties of Employees

Classified Employees

Inspectors were recently inspecting some site radiography activities and discovered that one of the radiographers, who was a classified radiation worker, was not wearing his personal whole body dosemeter. Employees of the firm had previously been warned by their employer that they should ensure that they were wearing their dosemeters whilst working in controlled areas and the employer had taken steps to police this requirement adequately. The employee was subsequently required to give a tape recorded statement under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and consideration is being given to the prosecution of that individual under Section 7 of the HSW Act 1974.

Classified radiation workers have a duty to wear a statutory dosemeter whilst working with ionising radiations. Failure to do so is taken very seriously by inspectors, because there has been a number of deliberate attempts to disguise bad practices and hide high radiation exposures in this way. Prosecution of the individual is always considered in such cases.

Non-Classified Employees

There has been a number of reported cases where employees have failed to take good care of their dosemeters. Many of these cases involve employees in the Health Services, some of whom have been senior clinicians.

Non-Classified employees who have been provided with a dosemeter by their employer to ensure compliance with reg 18(2)(c)(ii) of the IRR99 have a duty to look after that dosemeter and return it for processing as required. Provided the employer has informed the employees of that duty and is exercising the appropriate level of supervision, employees who persistently fail to wear, look after or return their dosemeters promptly are liable to enforcement action by inspectors up to and including prosecution under Section 7 of the HSW Act 1974. Employers may find statement of this fact useful when dealing with 'errant' staff.


Principles for the Protection of On-Site Personnel in the Event of Radiation Accidents

NRPB has previously published principles for the protection of the public and

emergency workers in the event of accidental releases of radioactive materials into the off-site environment (Documents of the NRPB,1(4),1990). As a result of interest from industry, HSE and NRPB have jointly been developing proposals for principles for the protection of on-site personnel in the event of radiation accidents. It is expected that these principles will be of particular interest to employers whose activities may give rise to accidents in which doses might exceed a dose of 0.5 Gy - criticality being an obvious candidate - but there are other possible sources of high doses in an accident situation.

NRPB has provided an initial steer on the likely direction of future proposals and this can be found on the NRPB web site. This proposes, inter alia, that when making emergency plans, employers should identify the areas where doses that could lead to deterministic effects in exposed employees could be received - a threshold of 1.0 Gy for low LET radiation and 0.5 Gy for neutrons is proposed. Justification of protective measures for the high risk group on site (those who might receive doses above the threshold) would need to be demonstrated separately from the justification and optimisation of measures for those at risk of stochastic health effects only.

Initial consultation on these proposals has taken place with industry members of the Nuclear Emergency Arrangements Forum (NEAF). HSE's expectation is that a draft guidance document will be available in January 2002 and a workshop has been arranged at the NRPB training centre on 15 March 2002.

Further details or queries to David Simister, Nuclear Safety Directorate david.simister@hse.gov.uk


Occupational Radiation Protection : Protecting Workers Against Exposure to Ionising Radiation

An international conference on "Occupational Radiation Protection: Protecting Workers Against Exposure to Ionising Radiation" is due to be held in Geneva, Switzerland 26-30 August 2002. The conference is supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency, International Labour Organisation, European Commission, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, and the World Health Organisation. Topical sessions will cover:-

In addition there will be round table sessions on the following:-


Article 31 Group Working Group on Education and Training - Questionnaire on Qualified Experts in Radiation Protection

Council Directive 96/29/Euratom (the BSS Directive) provides the basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. Member States have transposed, or are in the process of transposing, the BSS Directive into their national legislation. In the UK, the Ionising Radiations Regulations (IRR99) and the Ionising Radiations Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 implement the majority of the provisions of this Directive.

Applicant Countries must also implement the BSS Directive when they become a Member State of the European Union. To stimulate the exchange of services and persons between Member States, it is important that in the field of radiation protection a 'qualified expert', as defined in the Directive, is recognised in all Member States.

The European Commission has asked NRG (a contractor) to survey the present situation of 'qualified experts' within the Member States and Applicant Countries. HSE coordinated the UK response and returned the completed questionnaire to NRG in late October. HSE's response includes contributions from the Environment Agency (EA), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB).

NRG will inform Member States of progress made in relation to this survey of 'qualified experts' within the EU. Readers will be informed of further developments in future issues of RP News.


Exposure to cosmic radiation

Exposure to cosmic radiation is not covered by IRR99 but exposure of aircrew (pilots and cabin crew) is regulated through the Air Navigation Order 2000. Guidance on protection of aircrew is available from the Department for Health. Frequent flyers, other than aircrew, who are concerned about their exposure to cosmic radiation when flying may wish to know that there is question  


Prosecution

Manchester company fined £35,000 after radioactive source goes missing

A Manchester company was fined a total of £35,000 for three offences relating to the loss of a radioactive source from its site at Lower Lane, Milnrow, near Rochdale.

Vitafibres Limited, of Oldham Road, Middleton, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 and to a third charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The prosecution was brought jointly by the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As well as being fined, the company was ordered to pay £7,898.10 costs to the Agency and HSE.

An investigation began in May 2000, after the company admitted it had lost a radioactive source containing 11 GBq of americium-241 from its Lower Lane site, in Milnrow, while dismantling a machine. The company, which manufactures polyester wadding for use in the bedding and furniture industry, had lost the source in about October 1999 but had only become aware of the loss in May 2000. A catalogue of errors by Vitafibres' management contributed to the loss of the source, which has still not been found.

The company had installed three gauges, each containing an americium-241 radioactive source, on its production lines to measure the density of fibres. The company registered the three sources, as required by legislation.

 Once registered, the company had to comply with a number of conditions governing the way in which the sources were dealt with at the site, including a requirement that the company have a 'competent person' in place to ensure the conditions of the registration were adhered to by the company.

The company told the court that, initially, one of the company's engineers fulfilled the role of `competent person'. The same employee also had the role of 'radiation protection supervisor', as required by health and safety legislation to ensure the proper supervision of work with the radioactive sources.

Until this employees departure from the company, in 1998, Vitafibres had complied with the legislation. However, after he left, the appointment of a new radiation protection supervisor was not made, and the company failed to comply with numerous aspects concerning the use and keeping of the radioactive sources. Routine checks on the sources, required under the Radioactive Substances Act and health and safety legislation, were not carried out.

The court was told that, some time after the departure of this key employee, the company undertook a project involving the removal of plant that included the gauges containing the radioactive sources.

The first source was scheduled for removal in October 1999. Risks involved in the work were not adequately assessed, and no written instructions were given to the staff involved. Neither the manager responsible for the project, nor the employee given the job of removing the radioactive source from the machine, had any training on the use, or even the identification, of radioactive sources.

When the work was done the employee removed the wrong part, leaving the radioactive source attached to the machine. The source, which has not been traced, was almost certainly sent inadvertently to a scrap metal dealer still attached to a part of the production line being disposed of.

The error was only detected as a result of the action of another Vitafibres employee, who had been responsible for radioactive sources held by the company at another site. The company told the court that it had only been able to establish the error after several days searching as records, required to be kept up-to-date by law, had not be updated for a number of years.

The investigation by the Environment Agency and the HSE revealed that the company had, for approaching two years before the discovery of the mistake, inadequate, verging on non-existent, controls in place to ensure it complied with the Radioactive Substances Act and health and safety legislation.

The court heard that a specialist health and safety inspector, investigating on behalf of HSE, concluded that, if the source remained intact in the machine, the radiation it emitted posed only a very limited risk.

However, had the source found its way into a scrap metal furnace, there was the potential for foundry workers to be exposed to dust containing radioactive americium-241. It was possible that such workers, during an eight-hour shift, would therefore be exposed to a radiation dose up to the equivalent of the annual dose limit for a member of the public.

The court heard that, had the company taken the straightforward and simple steps necessary to comply with the legislation, the loss of the source, and accompanying risk associated with that loss, would have been highly unlikely.


HSE guidance

 The regulatory requirements for medical exposure to ionising radiation: an employer's overview ISBN 0 7176 2134 0, HSG223 £6.50 is available from HSE Books 

 Working safely with ionising radiation: guidelines for expectant and breastfeeding mothers: free leaflet INDG334

 Free information sheets in the Ionising Radiation Protection series:


Useful web sites

This publication may be freely reproduced, except for advertising, endorsement or commercial purposes. Please acknowledge the source as HSE.


Updated on the HSE web site 29 July 2002

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