Protecting workers and the public against Ionising Radiations
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.
If you intend to start work with ionising radiation for the first time you need to let the HSE know [349kb] at least 28 days before you start work.
The Protection of Persons Against Ionising Radiations (ACoP)
- 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 Approved Code of Practice is intended to cover the uses of sealed and unsealed sources of radiation and x-ray equipment, whether that is in the medical profession or industry. Included are uses such as luggage x-ray equipment at harbours and airports, and density meters used in construction.
- Important issues included in the code are dose limitations, assessment of risk, contingency planning and emergency procedures.
- This Approved Code of Practice was approved on the 20th July 1995 and is available in printed form from the Health & Safety Executive.
What are ionising radiations / non-ionising radiations?
- The main difference between ionising and non-ionising radiation is in the amount of energy the radiation carries. Ionising radiation carries more energy than non-ionising radiation.
- Ionising radiation includes: X-rays, gamma rays, radiation from radioactive sources and sources of naturally occurring radiation, such as radon gas. Ionising radiation has many uses in industry, such as energy production, manufacturing, medicine and research and produces many benefits to society. However, it is important that the risks of ionising radiation are managed sensibly to protect workers and the public.
- Non-ionising radiation includes: visible light, ultra-violet light, infra-red radiation, and electromagnetic fields. Sources of electromagnetic fields are used extensively in telecommunications and manufacturing with little evidence of related long-term health problems. Ultra-violet light is part of natural sunlight and also forms part of some man-made light sources. It can cause a number of health problems, including skin cancer.
- Further information on ionising and non-ionising radiation can be obtained from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
Radiation Protection Advisor
- If you are an employer working with ionising radiation (a 'radiation employer'), you will need to consult a suitable Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA). Any RPA consulted should conform to the definition of an RPA as described in HSE's criteria of competence and should be suitable in terms of possessing the requisite knowledge and experience relevant to the employer's type of work.
- A Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) is an individual or body which provides advice to employers on compliance with the ACOP / UK equivalent.
- Dose limits are intended to reduce the risk of serious effects occurring, such as cancer, and are in place to protect the eyes, skin and extremities against other forms of damage.
- The limits on effective dose (dose to the whole body) acceptable in Guernsey are:
- for employees aged 18 years or over, 20 millisieverts in a calendar year (except that in special cases employers may apply a dose limit of 100 millisieverts in 5 years with no more than 50 millisieverts in a single year, subject to strict conditions);
- for trainees, 6 millisieverts in a calendar year; and
- for any other person, including members of the public and employees under 18 who cannot be classed as trainees, 1 millisievert in a calendar year.
- The prior risk assessment you carry out for work with ionising radiation should consider the potential radiation exposures an individual may receive during the course of their work (including accidental exposures). This will help enable you to make an estimate of likely radiation doses and whether staff should be subject to personal dose monitoring. The risk outcome of this assessment will also determine whether certain employees should be designated as classified persons.
- If you become pregnant: It is in the interests of both yourself and your baby to inform your employer as soon as you know you are pregnant. Your employer needs to know this so they can make any necessary changes to protection measures and apply the additional dose limits. You are not legally required to inform your employer and can choose to keep this private. However, if your employer is unaware that you are pregnant they may not be able to take any further action.
Temporary importation of Ionising Radiation Sources or X-ray Equipment
- Anyone intending to import an ionising radiation source or x-ray equipment for use in Guernsey (even on a temporary basis) must notify the Health & Safety Executive in writing at least 28 days prior to doing so.
- Guernsey Border Agency / Customs may not allow the equipment to be landed in Guernsey unless it has been notified to the HSE.