incorporating ADS News
(formerly The Radiation Protection Adviser)
Welcome to issue 27 of Radiation Protection News incorporating ADS News, which aims to clarify areas of concern and update readers on further developments in the field of ionising radiation.
Please send any comments, queries and contributions to Ionising Radiation Policy, Health and Safety Executive, 7NW, Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS
This publication may be freely reproduced, except for advertising, endorsement or commercial purposes. Please acknowledge the source as HSE.
HSE plans to publish its proposed changes to the HSE Statement on its website in early June. HSE is consulting widely and there will be a period of twelve weeks for everyone to provide their views on the proposed changes. So keep an eye on HSE’s ionising radiation webpage.
HSE and Local Authorities are aware that the vast majority of employers with workplaces located in ‘radon affected areas’ have not assessed the radon hazard in relation to the protection of their employees. HSE’s Field Operation Directorate’s Radiation Team (FOD RT) have devised a programme containing fifteen initiatives targeted at increasing the numbers of workplaces assessed with the longer-term aim of reducing workplace exposures and any possible resultant fatalities. Annual radiation doses can be high and the health risks significant; especially amongst employees who smoke tobacco. The initiatives broadly fall into three coordinated categories, namely; provision of information and advice, working with stakeholders and intermediaries, and visits to employers. Many of these initiatives will be developed further during the next 6 months but those relating to communication with employers through visiting premises in the most seriously affected areas will commence immediately.
For premises located in radon affected areas, HSE has found that where employers are made aware of the potential risks from radon in their workplace, they are keen to carry out a risk assessment to determine whether or not these premises have high radon levels. High levels are essentially where those that exceed 400 Bq/m3 averaged over 24 hrs and are regulated by the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. The assessment is likely to include a number of measurements around the premises and the results and conclusions should be recorded. Where levels are found to exceed 400 Bq/m3 averaged over 24 hr then remedial actions should be taken to reduce those levels. If levels cannot be reduced sufficiently, then a Radiation Protection Adviser must be consulted and measures put in place to restrict exposures to levels as low as reasonably practicable.
The areas most seriously affected by radon are Cornwall, Devon, Northamptonshire,
and significant parts of Wales, Derbyshire, Somerset, Grampian, and Highlands
regions of Scotland. Elevated levels have also been found in small pockets
in other areas. The Health Protection Agency have carried out and mapped
the results of extensive measurements from across the UK. The Government
has designated ‘Radon affected areas’ where there is a significant
likelihood of individual buildings having elevated levels.
[Maps for England & Wales are available on the HPA website under Documents of the NRPB, Vol 7, No. 2 (1996). Detailed maps can be downloaded or purchased from HPA on the same website under Reports from NRPB; NRPB-W26.]
On 28 February 2005, a veterinary practice in Cornwall was prosecuted in Liskeard Magistrates Court for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) and the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in relation to allowing persons to be X-rayed. The maximum fines for these offences in a magistrates court are £20,000 for each HSWA charge and £5,000 for the IRR99 charge. After the defendant, one of the veterinary partners, entered an early guilty plea, the HSE dropped the two HSWA charges. The practice was fined £3,000 (reduced from £4,500 following early guilty plea) and ordered to pay an additional £6,000 of the prosecution’s costs.
The basic principle of IRR99 is that all radiation exposures can cause harm and should therefore be kept as low as reasonably practicable. Whilst the practice appeared to achieve this during the radiography of small animals - they had risk assessments, Local Rules, a Radiation Protection Supervisor, a dedicated and adequately shielded X-ray room, personal dosimetry, the regular advice of a Radiation Protection Adviser, etc – dose savings were immediately cancelled out when persons (employees and members of the public) were deliberately put in front of the X-ray beam on over 25 occasions. HSE acknowledged that the X-rays of humans were taken with good intentions; there was no financial gain; and individual risks to those X-rayed were low. However, this was a serious matter that was both illegal and negated some of the enormous efforts over the years by the medical profession to keep radiation doses to patients as low as reasonably achievable. The Magistrates heard that X-rays had been taken by some of the partners, veterinary nurses and trainee veterinary nurses on various separate occasions. The two latest examples were examined in detail and the local hospital confirmed that the taking of X-rays was not required for either injury. The prosecution solicitor said: "X-rays should not have been taken. It was wholly inappropriate to do so. By doing so the defendant was in breach of his duty."
For X-rays to be taken of people for diagnostic purposes additional regulations, the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000 (IR(ME)R 2000), apply. These regulations are intended to protect persons undergoing medical exposures and are enforced by the Department of Health also under HSWA. IR(ME)R 2000 clearly identify specific responsibilities relating to the use of ionising radiation, require that each medical exposure is justified and optimised and that there is a framework of written procedures and protocols. The requirements include that the persons requesting and deciding the X-rays take place are registered medical or dental practitioners or other health professionals who have been authorised to do so by the employer at the practice. In addition, all persons involved in the X-ray process must also be authorised to do so and be appropriately trained for the tasks they undertake.
Any practice using ionising radiation for medical exposures must ensure that the X-ray equipment is properly constructed and maintained, and the requirements of IRR99 and IR(ME)R 2000 are complied with. It is the view of the HSE and the Department of Health that it is highly unlikely that any, let alone all, of these conditions can be met at a veterinary practice. It follows therefore that X-rays must not be taken of human beings at veterinary practices.
HSE is aware that the X-raying of people may not be unique to this veterinary practice or this part of the country and has a duty to consider prosecution in relation to any future instances that come to light.
The replacement for PM77 will be published on the HSE ionising radiation
website later this year. This follows on from the two rounds of consultation
that have provided HSE with many useful comments and suggestions. These
have been incorporated wherever possible.
The new document will contain guidance on: -
The issue that attracted the most interest and differing views was that on the recommended multiplying factors to be applied to the intended dose to assist in determining if a patient exposure is much greater than intended and hence notifiable to HSE under Regulation 32(6). The new guidance includes multiplying factors for radiotherapy that are the same as in PM77. For diagnostic studies the following factors are recommended:-
HSE plans to start work on evaluating the impact of Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 and its supporting ACOP during 2005. This is in line with Government policy to assess the impact of new regulatory packages after an appropriate period. The regulations have now been in force since 1 January 2000 giving HSE and stakeholders five years experience of the legislative package.
It is planned that much of the detailed work will be carried out for HSE by an independent contractor. HSE will be drawing up a list of issues that the project will need to address. If there are particular parts of the regulations and/or ACOP that have caused you practical difficulties in interpretation, compliance etc please let us know.
Please send your contributions to:Ionising Radiation Policy,
HSE has recently issued a Certificate of Approval which contains new values for the purposes of Column 5, Part I of Schedule 8 to the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. The new values for the radionuclides Nitrogen, Oxygen, Neon, Argon, Krypton and Xenon have been determined by HSE following recommendations from the Health Protection Agency Radiation Division (formerly the National Radiation Protection Board).
ADS will wish to note that Mark Bradley is the new ADS Programme Manager, replacing Sharan Packer.Mark Bradley,
In accordance with the provisions of Annex 1, Part II, of the HSE Statement on radiation protection advisers HSE has recently recognised the following as RPA Bodies under the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999:
Tel: 01925 675638
Fax: 01925 675551
Tel: 028 90944385 (direct)
Tel: 028 90634430 (Chief Executive)
Fax: 028 90703819
Tel: (01625) 576000
Fax: (01625) 576001
The National Radiological Protection Board RPA Body is now recognised as
HPA Radiation Protection Division RPA Body
Dstl Radiological Protection Services RPA Body is now recognised as Dstl RPA Body
The British Institute of NDT has been recognised as an Assessing Body for the certification of individual radiation protection advisers under IRR99.