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Radiation Protection News

incorporating ADS News
(formerly The Radiation Protection Adviser)

Issue 28 November 2005



Welcome to issue 28 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.

Notification of work with ionising radiation

It has come to light that a number of employers believe that because their new X-ray equipment has accessible surface dose rates of less than 1 uSv/h at 0.1 m, they are exempt from notification of these uses to HSE in accordance with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999(IRR99) Regulation 6 (1). Typical examples include the significant numbers of employers purchasing X-ray security equipment and X-ray food safety devices for the first time. In some cases these new radiation employers appear to be receiving the incorrect information from the equipment suppliers and/or the supplier's radiation protection adviser (RPA) that IRR99 Schedule 1 paragraph 1(d)(ii) provides an exemption to Regulation 6(1). HSE would like to remind suppliers that there is an all important 'and' at the end of IRR99 Schedule 1 paragraph 1(d)(i). This requires that the external dose rate is less than 1 uSv/h AND the equipment is of a type specifically approved by HSE. No electrical apparatus has been type approved by HSE under IRR99. [Note: Cathode ray tubes for display of visual images and other electrical apparatus operating at a potential difference of 30 kV or less are separately exempt from notification under Schedule 1 paragraph 1(e).]

Some similar cases have also been identified where equipment incorporating sealed radioactive sources has not been notified due to mistaken application of similar dose rate exemption criteria in Schedule 1 paragraph 1(c)(iii). Typical examples include employers purchasing some analytical and process control equipment for the first time. For employers using this equipment to be exempt from notification ALL of paragraph 1(c) must be met. Paragraph 1(c)(i) requires that the equipment is of a type specifically approved by HSE. Only installed smoke detectors, a limited number of smoke detectors undergoing storage, handling or processing and installed gaseous tritium light sources (eg. fire exits) are type approved (see type approvals TA1, TA3, and TA2).

All Regulation 6(1) notifications, often referred to as 28-day notifications, should be made in writing to the HSE office nearest to the workplace at or from which the equipment is used. HSE have not produced a 'form' for Regulation 6(1) notifications and employers should simply send a letter detailing the particulars in IRR99, Schedule 2.

Review of IRR99, it’s ACOP and guidance

In the May issue of Radiation Protection News we explained HSE would be reviewing the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999(IRR99) , its ACOP and guidance during 2005. HSE has limited resource and we must prioritise our work so have pulled together the few comments we have received to see whether a review at this stage is justified.

The Article above on notification is one area where change may be needed. As it raises some key questions relating to IRR99 we would be glad of your views:

We would be pleased to receive your views on this and any other areas of the IRR99 package which cause you difficulties, on how effective it is at controlling the risks of ionising radiation in the workplace, how easy it is to comply with and where useful improvements could be made. We are especially interested in any practical difficulties you are experiencing and any burdens you believe should be reduced. Should a full review of the whole package be a priority for HSE at this stage?

We will, in any case, be assessing the administrative burdens of the package as part of the Administrative Burdens Reduction Agenda being carried out across HSE over the next few months.

High Activity Sealed Radioactive Sources and Orphan Sources Regulations 2005 come into force

Council Directive 2003/122/Euratom (the HASS Directive) on the control of high-activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources was introduced in the light of experience worldwide which showed that, despite the existence of a regulatory framework, control of high-activity sealed sources (HASS) has the potential to be lost, even in countries with rigorous regulatory systems.

The HASS Directive aims to make HASS subject to strict control, from the time they are ready for sale or are imported into the European Union (EU) to the time they are placed in a facility for their long-term storage or disposal or are exported permanently from the EU. HASS requires:

The HASS Directive was implemented in the UK on the 20 October 2005 by the High-Activity Sealed Radioactive Sources and Orphan Sources Regulations 2005 (the HASS Regulations) and associated Directions. The HASS Regulations apply to new HASS (ie those first placed on the market on or after 1 January 2006) from 1 January 2006 and to existing HASS (ie those first placed on the market on or before 31 December 2005) from 1 January 2008. The HASS Regulations amend the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93). The enforcing body in England and Wales is the Environment Agency (EA) and the regulatory authority for Scotland is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), with the exception of HASS that are kept, used, accumulated and disposed of on nuclear licensed sites, where the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)is the regulatory authority for Great Britain. The Environment and Heritage Service (EHS NI) is the enforcing authority for Northern Ireland.

The HASS Regulations also introduce a regulatory regime to ensure the security of radioactive materials on civil non-nuclear sites. This will apply to HASS and to other sealed sources which are of a similar level of potential hazard. The Environment Agencies will be working closely with the police in enforcing the security aspects of the HASS Regulations.

Due to the additional requirements arising from the HASS Regulations over and above those in RSA93, users of sources affected by the HASS Regulations will need to:

Guidance for users of sealed sources on the HASS Regulations have been issued by EA.

The HASS Regulations do not affect a user’s requirement to comply with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99), enforced by HSE, despite some of the requirements of the HASS Directive duplicating to some extent requirements of the IRR99. Users must comply with both sets of legislation and HSE and the Environment Agencies will work closely to ensure a consistent and comprehensive regulatory approach.

Readers may note also that Article 8(1) of the HASS Directive (appropriate training of, and adequate information to be given to, employees and other persons concerning ionising radiation), as stated by regulation 19 of the HASS Regulations, is implemented by regulation 14 of the IRR99 and regulation 14 of the Ionising Radiations Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 (IRR(NI)2000). Notice of this will be given shortly on both the HSE website and that of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland.

This means that in relation to HASS, the appropriate training and adequate information (which must be repeated at regular intervals and documented) required by IRR99 / IRR (NI) 2000 shall include:

Strand Transport Services Ltd

Strand Transport Services Ltd was fined £15,000 at Stratford-Upon-Avon Magistrates’ Court on Friday 3 June 2005 for radiation safety offences.

Strand Transport Services Ltd are engaged in work practices involving the transport of radioactive materials throughout the UK from premises in Rochdale, Coventry and Hamilton. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution followed an investigation into the Company’s radiation protection arrangements at its depot at Baginton, Coventry. The investigation uncovered several matters including poor segregation of work involving hazardous radioactive materials and substandard storage arrangements for those materials; insufficient radiation monitoring arrangements for the premises and its vehicles; and inadequate risk assessments. Ultimately, these led to employees receiving radiation exposures which were not appropriately restricted.

The Company admitted one charge under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and one charge under Regulation 29 of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. It was fined a total of £15,000, for both offences, limited due to an early plea, and ordered to pay costs of £10,868.

This case highlights the importance for employers to implement appropriate controls for work with hazardous radioactive substances. In pleading guilty, Strand Transport Services Ltd admitted a failure to satisfy the most fundamental principle of radiation protection; namely that exposures to employees and other persons affected by its work activity should be restricted so far as is reasonably practicable. This, together with the failure to ensure that radioactive materials were stored in a suitable store with security, shielding and segregation, was a matter considered by the Health and Safety Executive to be serious enough to warrant this prosecution.

HSE internal arrangements for radiation protection

Although under the definition in the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is not a radiation employer with respect to its regulatory activities, HSE ensures that its inspectors abide by good practice in the various situations involving ionising radiations they find themselves. And to help achieve this, the organisation has appointed suitable radiation protection advisers.

Regulatory work areas

The main operational parts of HSE fall into two categories:

To accommodate the two different circumstances the approach to compliance with IRR99 varies between the directorates.

Restriction of exposure and management of radiation protection

Across the whole of HSE, appropriate measures are in place to restrict exposure to ionising radiation of its employees to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). This is achieved by compliance with relevant aspects of IRR99 (e.g., risk assessment, appropriate working instructions, provision of training to inspectors, monitoring of radiation exposures received, appropriate control of the small number of sealed radiation sources held by HSE and co-operation with other employers, to the extent that an inspector is able to carry out his work as a regulator). HSE has implemented systems for management of radiation protection across the organisation. These include clear lines of responsibility for management of radiation protection and the setting up of a radiation protection committee group. This group reports to senior management via the main HSE health and safety committee.

HSE’s classified workers and outside workers

NSD operates a nuclear site licensing regime. Most of its nuclear installation inspections are planned and undertaken in co-operation with licensees, although some unannounced inspections are carried out. Some nuclear installation inspectors are classified (based upon a risk assessment). These inspectors are not outside workers as defined in IRR99. However, to facilitate best practice in co-operation between NSD and licensees as employers (regarding sharing of dose information and restriction of exposure), NSD treats its classified inspectors as outside workers. Hence, they carry passbooks and observe the relevant IRR99 regulations.

HID operates a permissioning regime at the sites it inspects. HID inspectors are not normally classified due to the lower radiation hazard at these sites. However a number of HID’s fire surveyors are classified because of work they undertake on nuclear licensed sites. These surveyors are also treated as outside workers.

FOD and RI do not operate radiation related permissioning regimes. However, a small number of FOD inspectors (the radiation specialists) are classified. The work of these specialists very often includes inspections about which duty holders have no previous warning and of duty holders whose measures for controlled areas do not permit entry of employees of other employers. In such situations the HSE inspectors enter such areas under the powers provided by Section 20 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. FOD does not treat these workers as outside workers.

When FOD inspectors visit a nuclear licensed site, prior arrangements are made to provide dose information to the licensee. When classified NSD inspectors visit a controlled area within a site regulated by one of the other directorates, arrangements are made to comply with the outside workers requirements of IRR99.

Local rules and radiation protection supervisors

Due to the work undertaken by its inspectors, NSD has decided to implement local rules for work in controlled areas and appoint unit managers as radiation protection supervisors.

The other directorates do not use local rules. However, there are suitable working procedures in place that must be followed by all staff that visit premises where ionising radiation hazard might be present. Supervision is via line managers.

When any inspector visits a site regulated by another directorate, arrangements will be made to ensure compliance with that directorate’s procedures. In all instances, HSE employees co-operate with other employers on radiation protection matters, to the extent that they are able and still carry out their regulatory work.

Review of the HSE Statement on radiation protection advisers

Since the last issue of Radiation Protection News, HSE published on its ionising radiation webpage its consultation on the review of the HSE Statement on Radiation Protection Advisers.

The consultation period has now closed and HSE has received a good response from consultees: 39 individuals and organisations replied to the consultation, some of whom represent many members.

HSE would therefore like to thank those readers who responded to the consultation. HSE is currently analysing the consultation results and will then publish a revised Statement early next year.

Updated 2011-10-14