Is there a radiation hazard in your workplace?

What is the problem? 

Ionising radiation is known to have significant health effects if there is sufficient exposure.  This ranges from short term high level or acute exposure which can cause burns, radiation sickness which in some cases can be fatal to long term low level exposure which can result in cancer.

Radiation is therefore heavily regulated in the workplace to reduce exposure as low as possible. Non-ionising radiation such as lasers can also have health effects such as burns to eyes or skin.


What legislation applies to in the workplace?

The Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999 (IRR99) 


What can be done to reduce exposure to radiation?

Employers must reduce exposure through control measures to as low as is reasonably practicable, perform risk assessments and establish controlled and supervised areas as required under IRR99.  Where workers may be potentially exposed to radiation, the employer is required to monitor employee’s exposure using dosimetry and to ensure they are provided with health surveillance by an HSE approved doctor.

For non-ionising radiation risk assessments should be performed and health surveillance instigated if indicated including exposure to Class 3R, 3B and 4 lasers.


More about health surveillance

If a worker is potentially exposed to radioactive material they must have an initial medical examination to establish a baseline and suitability to work in such an environment prior to starting if possible. Annual review either by questionnaire or medical examination is then required whilst potential exposure is ongoing.  The doctor who conducts the surveillance will also need access to dosimetry reports.

Health surveillance for lasers is conducted by appropriately trained optometrists who will carry out the required eye tests (including visual acuity, fundoscopy and Amsler grid testing).


Next Steps

If you are an employer and need advice on health surveillance under IRR99 or for non-ionising radiation, we would be happy to provide this service.

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