incorporating ADS News
(formerly The Radiation Protection Adviser)
Welcome to issue 30 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.
The revised HSE Statement on Radiation Protection Advisors was published, following two years of consultation with interested parties, in October 2006. The new statement retains the essential elements of the old statement, clarifies some issues that have caused concern to some applicants and professional bodies, and simplifies the application process for applicants who apply for a certificate of core competence for the first time.
The new Statement clarifies the role of the RPA as defined in the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 and the elements of ‘core competence’ that must be demonstrated to assessing bodies.
HSE thanks all who took time to contribute to the development of the new Statement.
Significant changes introduced by the new Statement are shown in the table below:
|"Old" Statement||"New" Statement|
|Annex 1 Paragraphs 16-19
"Investigation and withdrawal of recognition"
|The new statement makes reference to HSE’s Enforcement Policy Statement and brings the complaints investigation procedure into line with that which is in place elsewhere in HSE. The new Statement allows the RPA Panel to undertake preliminary enquiries before conducting any formal investigation.|
|Annex 1 Paragraph 3(d)
"clear, adequate and appropriate"
|The words "clear" and "appropriate" have been added in order to make the Statement consistent with the intent of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999.|
|Introduction, Paragraph 8
|The definitions that were previously included in the introduction to the Statement have been moved to Annexes at its end.|
|Annex 3: Basic underpinning knowledge for RPAs - "DU" Topics||The number of DU topics has been increased from 4 to 5.|
The new Statement is available for download from www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/ionising/rpa/statementrpa.htm and comes into effect on the 31 st March 2007.
HSE has been involved in discussions with RPA2000 as to how the new Statement should be implemented by revisions to the procedures for applying for a certificate of core competence. HSE has agreed with RPA 2000 that all applications for certificates of core competence submitted up to and including the 31 st March 2007 should be assessed using their existing procedures. We are working towards implementation of revised procedures from 1 st April 2007, but RPA 2000 will be able to advise applicants should there be any slippage in this timetable.
HSE has published guidance on the new criteria for core competence and these will form the basis of the revised assessment procedures. Copies of the guidance can be downloaded from http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/ionising/rpa/rpa.htm.
HSE wants to hear from other organisations that might be interested in becoming an assessing body. The requirements for Assessing Bodies can be found in Annex 2 of HSE’s Statement on Radiation
The Nuclear Industry Code of Practice on Changeroom Design, Operation and Maintenance has been published by the Industry Radiological Protection Co-ordination Group (IRPCG) on behalf of the Nuclear Industry Safety Directors Forum (SDF). The Code of Practice was developed by an IRPCG working group whose membership consisted of representatives from UKAEA, British Nuclear Group Sellafield Limited, GE Healthcare, HM Naval Base Clyde, Devonport Management Limited, AWE plc, British Energy, Rolls Royce, and HSE/NII, and has been the subject of extensive review and consultation amongst relevant stakeholders.
The IRPCG will keep the Code of Practice under review and strongly encourages users to comment upon, question or make suggestions on the content of the document. The IRPCG has undertaken to revise and re-issue the document as necessary. The document will be useful to all duty holders involved in the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of changerooms, and is available from the IRPCG web site - (http://www.irpcg.safety-directors-forum.org).
Richard Peace, Senior Physicist
Nuclear Medicine Section, Regional Medical Physics Department
Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne
Radiation detectors have been installed at UK ports and airports to screen vehicles and passengers for illegal radioactive substances on entry to the UK. The mobile and fixed detectors are being gradually introduced by HM Revenue and Customs and the Home Office as part of programme Cyclamen. Customs officers should be able to identify the radionuclide after detecting a radioactive patient and hence deal with them sensitively.
Patients frequently travel (back) into the UK following administration of medical radionuclides. There are about 10,000 patients receiving radioiodine therapy for thyrotoxicosis  and around 600,000 diagnostic imaging procedures  per year in the UK. These patients can trigger radiation security detectors with distressing consequences and delays.
The period of time after administration of a radiopharmaceutical that a typical patient can trigger a detector is uncertain since the sensitivity of the detectors has, understandably, not been released. The model that Zuckier et al. provides is based on US homeland security detectors and gives some indication of the periods involved. (http://njms.umdnj.edu/departments/radiology/radalarmcalculator.cfm). The model predicts that a radioiodine patient could trigger a detector after 95 days and a bone scan patient after 3 days and this is consistent with the experience at Maidstone. It should be noted however that the period of detection may be somewhat longer than predicted by the model.
The HSE Research Report 416 ‘ Information to accompany patients undergoing nuclear medicine procedures’ has recently been published ( http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr416.htm). Twenty (36 %) of the departments provided written information to radioisotope therapy patients specifically for customs officers and 7 % were aware of specific problems at borders. Although patients are frequently screened for travel abroad, the oral advice was, necessarily, ad-hoc and information for customs/police often relied on the standard ‘yellow card’. Only 12 % of departments provided information following diagnostic procedures and two reported incidents. Formal guidance is lacking, in particular the period that patients must carry information is largely unspecified and a general understanding that even patients undergoing diagnostic tests can trigger alarms is needed. National advice is likely to become more important with the introduction of further detectors in the UK and abroad and is recommended in Research Report 416.
The Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee (ARSAC) is considering this issue and intends to provide advice in the near future to the medical community through its website. In the meantime, it may be sensible for all patients undergoing radionuclide therapy or diagnosis to carry a medical note when travelling abroad. Customs officers are aware of these patients, have received appropriate guidance and will treat patients sensitively, observing confidentially as appropriate.
Information concerning the incident involving Alexander Litvinenko can be found on the HPA’s website at:
All queries about public health issues relating to this incident should be directed to the HPA. Contact details can be found at:
HSE has been aware for some time that there remain a few IRR99 and ACOP L121 interpretative issues that require attention. In this regard, HSE regards a complete overhaul of the IRR99 as unjustifiable because the likely improvement in radiation protection outcome would be small. Therefore HSE has set up a working group to develop appropriate ways forward; the issues that this group will address are set out below.
The Group’s membership is drawn from HSE’s Field Operations and Nuclear Safety directorates and is chaired by James Taylor.
To date, the Group has met twice, during which, it decided on the need for improved guidance in the following areas:
The Group was not able to consider issues that could only be dealt with by amendment to the IRR99; these were referred to HSE’s Policy Group and were as follows:
|Regulation 18(2)(c)(ii)||Control over entry into areas|
18(2) The employer who has designated an area as a controlled areas shall not permit any employee or other person to enter or remain in such an area unless that employee or other person
(c) not being a classified person, enters or remains in the area in accordance with suitable written arrangements for the purpose of ensuring that -
ii. in the case of any other person, he does not receive in any calendar year a dose of ionising radiation exceeding any relevant dose limit.
|Additional Guidance 18(2)(c)(ii)||Entry of comforters and carers into controlled areas|
The IRR99 define a Radiation Employer as follows.
"radiation employer" means an employer who in the course of a trade, business or other undertaking carries out work with ionising radiation and, for the purposes of regulations 5, 6 and 7, includes an employer who intends to carry out such work;
In the case where a company, who does not normally work with ionising radiations is contracted to do such work, the employer becomes a radiation employer as defined. It also follows that where, in any event, an employee carries out work with ionising radiations, that person’s employer should be regarded as radiation employer.
For parent, subsidiary and sub-contracting companies, the test to determine who is a ‘radiation employer’, and in this regard there may be several, is that described above. In other words, whoever has employees engaged in work with ionising radiations is de facto a radiation employer, irrespective of the contractual arrangements that exist between these respective companies.
In the case of an employer (A) who has employees working on the premises of a radiation employer (B), but who are not actually engaged in any work with ionising radiations, employer (A) is not a radiation employer.
In the case of contractors that work at premises operated by large radiation employers, such as those in the nuclear industry, radiation employer duties, such as they apply to the contractor’s work, should be discharged primarily by employer co-operation as required under Regulation 15 of the IRR99. In this regard, large radiation employers have a duty of care to their contractors and, as such, must ensure that any non-compliance by their contractors with statutory provisions is not due to any ‘act or default’ on their part (Section 36 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974).
Column 5 of Schedule 8 of IRR99 contains reference levels for isotopes which would require notification to HSE under Regulation 30(3). Currently, no values are specified for thirty gaseous isotopes of nitrogen, oxygen, neon, argon, krypton and xenon.
In 2004, the National Radiological Protection Board published a report on research # undertaken on behalf of HSE which proposed activity levels for notifying loss or theft of each of these isotopes to HSE. Until such time as specific values are incorporated directly into the Regulations, HSE would expect to receive notification forthwith if a radiation employer had reasonable cause to believe that they had lost a quantity of radioactive substance exceeding the activity contained in the following table.
|Isotope|| Quantity for notification (Bq)
IRR99 regulation 30(3)
|13 N||1 x 109|
|15O||1 x 109|
|19Ne||1 x 109|
|37Ar||1 x 109|
|39Ar||1 x 105|
|41Ar||1 x 109|
|74Kr||1 x 109|
|76Kr||1 x 109|
|77Kr||1 x 109|
|79Kr||1 x 106|
|81Kr||1 x 107|
|81mKr||1 x 1010|
|83mKr||1 x 1012|
|85Kr||1 x 105|
|85mKr||1 x 1010|
|Isotope|| Quantity for notification (Bq)
IRR99 regulation 30(3)
|87Kr||1 x 109|
|88Kr||1 x 109|
|120Xe||1 x 109|
|121Xe||1 x 109|
|122Xe+||1 x 109|
|123Xe||1 x 109|
|125Xe||1 x 109|
|127Xe||1 x 106|
|129mXe||1 x 105|
|131mXe||1 x 105|
|133Xe||1 x 105|
|133mXe||1 x 105|
|135Xe||1 x 1010|
|135mXe||1 x 109|
|138Xe||1 x 109|
# NRPB-EA/21/2004: Assessment of notification levels for loss and theft for radionuclides with no values given in Schedule 8 of IRR99. October 2004.
|Restriction of exposure|
8(1) Every radiation employer shall, in relation to any work with ionising radiation that he undertakes, take all necessary steps to restrict so far as is reasonably practicable the extent to which his employees and other persons are exposed to ionising radiation.
|IRR99 Regulation 11(1)||Dose limitation|
11(1) Subject to paragraph (2) and to paragraph 5 of Schedule 4, every employer shall ensure that his employees and other persons who are within a class specified in Schedule 4 are not exposed to ionising radiation to an extent that any dose limit specified in Part I of that Schedule for such class of person is exceeded in any calendar year.
Schedule 4 Part I (6)
Schedule 4 Part I (6) Subject to paragraph 7, for the purposes of regulation 11(1) the limit on effective dose for any person other than an employee or trainee, including any person below the age of 16, shall be 1mSv in any calendar year.
3(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of-
For the purpose of identifying the measure he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.
|3(4) An employer shall not employ a young person unless he has, in relation to risks to the health and safety of young persons, made or reviewed an assessment in accordance with paragraphs (1) and (5).|
3(5) In making or reviewing the assessment, and employer who employs or is to employ a young person shall take particular account of -
|Protection of young persons|
19(1) Every employer shall ensure that young persons employed by him are protected at work from any risks to their health or safety which are a consequence of their lack of experience, or absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or the fact that young persons have not yet fully matured.
19(2) Subject to paragraph (3), no employer shall employ a young person for work -
|Additional Guidance||Persons below the age of 16 working with ionising radiation|
6. A ‘young person’ is defined in regulation 1 of the MHSWR99 as being any person who has not attained the age of eighteen.
7. There is no regulatory requirement that prevents young persons, which includes persons below the age of 16, from working with ionising radiation so long as their exposure is restricted so far as is reasonably practicable and does not exceed the dose limit of 1mSv in any calendar year that applies to other persons.
8. If a radiation employer employs a young person to work with ionising radiation, for example for work experience, he must ensure a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been done or any existing risk assessments are revised to take account of their lack of experience, absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or the fact that young persons have not yet fully matured.
9. The purpose of the risk assessment is to help the employer determine what measures should be taken to comply with relevant duties under the ‘relevant statutory provisions’, which include health and safety regulations such as these Regulations. Radiation protection aspects for the work should not be considered in isolation from other health and safety considerations, for example: some control methods for restricting exposure to ionising radiation by use of distance and shielding might pose unacceptable risks of falls or back strain. Therefore the employer will need to consider the differing radiological and conventional risks associated with alternative techniques under consideration for the work, in order to satisfy both regulation 7 of the IRR99 and regulation 3 of MHSWR.
While this is clear in terms of what is required for the ‘sealed’ part of the definition, it is less clear on what is meant by ‘source’. It is clear that, where a source is being used as a source of ionising radiation, e.g. a radiography source, it is (or should be) a sealed source. This does not mean that other materials that are sources of ionising radiation, but are not used as a source of ionising radiation in work with ionising radiation, e.g. a sealed can of uranium oxide in a store, should be considered as sealed sources.
It is HSE’s opinion that the term sealed source should only be applied either to sources where the source of ionising radiation is used directly as a source in work with ionising radiation, or where the indirect properties of the ionising radiation of the source are used. An example of the latter would be a thermoelectric generator, where the radioactive properties of a material generate heat that is used to produce electricity.
Paragraph 248(c) of the Approved Code of Practice encourages employers to designate controlled areas based on whether the risk of spreading radioactive contamination outside the working area is considered to be significant. Whilst any spread of contamination outside an area used for work with unsealed sources suggests some loss of control that would warrant investigation and remedial action, it is accepted that the amount of contamination may not always result in significant exposures. For example, if small quantities of materials of low radiotoxicity are spread. Most employers in the sector still choose to prepare written instructions documenting the procedures they have in place to minimise the potential for contamination. Such procedures are discussed in paragraph 258(b) of the IRR99 Guidance Notes and, when supplemented by regular contamination monitoring, are not considered to be special procedures but reflect good industry practice.
If an employer decides not to designate a controlled area in cases where some radioactive contamination is reasonably foreseeable, HSE would expect the employer to justify this decision in terms of the low risk posed by such spread. For example, the supporting risk assessment should include an assessment of effective doses arising out of potential intakes. An RPA should be consulted.
The role of a Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) is to advise a radiation employer on compliance with the IRR99. A radiation employer must seek the advice of an RPA on the matters listed in Schedule 5 of the IRR99. However an RPA has no duties under the IRR99 and need only give advice upon request.
Any suitable person can advise a radiation employer on matters associated with general radiation protection. However, where that advice is related directly to compliance with the IRR99, the radiation employer may not rely upon it as defence against any alleged breach of the IRR99 unless it has come from an RPA.
In practice an employer may require a great deal of advice about radiation protection only some of which is directly related to compliance with the IRR99. This means that an employer can employ the services of say a suitably experienced and qualified Radiation Protection Officer (RPO) for much of the day-to-day advice it requires. Only when that advice is directly concerned with compliance with the IRR99 should it come from an RPA.
The following flowcharts are intended to help you to establish whether the Ionising Radiations Regulations apply to any aspect of your work activity. You should consider each independently.
The requirement to prepare contingency plans arises from regulation 12(1) of IRR99. This states ‘where an assessment made in accordance with regulation 7 shows that a radiation accident is reasonably foreseeable (having regard to the steps taken by the radiation employer under paragraph (3) of that regulation, the radiation employer shall prepare a contingency plan designed to secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the restriction of exposure to ionising radiation and the health and safety of persons who may be affected by such accident’.
In addition regulation 12(2)(a) requires that ‘The radiation employer shall ensure that where local rules are required for the purposes of regulation 17, a copy of the contingency plan made in pursuance of paragraph (1) is identified in those rules and incorporated into them by way of summary or references’.
HSE is aware that some radiation employers are not producing contingency plans if they have no requirement for the production of local rules. This is not the intention of the regulations.
The requirement to produce a contingency plan is only consequent upon the outcome of a risk assessment under regulation 7, for a new activity involving work with ionising radiation, or under regulation 3 of the management of health and safety at work regulations (MHSWR) for existing activities involving ionising radiations. If these risk assessments show that a radiation accident is reasonably foreseeable, then a contingency plan will be required. This is the case whether or not local rules are required.
The intention of regulation 12(2) is to ensure that where local rules are required under regulation 17 that any contingency plan is identified in those local rules and is incorporated into them by way of summary or reference. This is reflected in the essential content of the local rules given in paragraph 278 of L121, Work with ionising radiations, Ionising Radiations Regulations1999, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance.
Nothing in the regulations, ACOP or guidance exempts a radiation employer from producing a contingency plan where a risk assessment has shown that a radiation accident is reasonably foreseeable.
|Suitable leak tests|
|27(3) Where appropriate, the radiation employer shall ensure that suitable tests are carried out at suitable intervals to detect leakage of radioactive substances from any article to which paragraph (2) applies and the employer shall make a suitable record of each such test and shall retain that record for at least 2 years after the article is disposed of or until a further record is made following a subsequent test to that article.|
|When it is appropriate to leak test smoke detectors|
In its consultation on proposals for the 07/08 RSR Charging Scheme, the Environment Agency said it intended to introduce a new fixed condition registration process for lower risk sealed sources. The Agency will publish the details of this initiative at its Radioactive Substance Users web pages by 1 April. It will make available a new application form and the registration conditions together with guidance to applicants and to registration holders. The revised Charging Scheme will also be published.
The Agency is grateful for the help of members in shaping this work and hopes that it will represent a useful development in its regulatory approach.
More information is available at the following web site: www.environment-agency.gov.uk