Ionising radiation consists of particles, alpha or beta, and electromagnetic radiation, X-rays or gamma rays, with sufficient energy to cause ionisation and damage the medium through which they pass.
Ionising radiation can occur naturally, e.g. radioactive decay of radon gas, or be produced artificially e.g. from medical X-rays. Ionising radiation can present a health hazard if proper control measures are not put in place to limit or prevent exposure. People can be exposed to ionising radiation externally, or by ingesting or breathing in radioactive material.
The Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017 came into force in January 2018 and are enforced by the HSE. The regulations cover the use of radioactive materials and radiation generators in many work activities, e.g. manufacturing, construction, engineering, oil and gas production, health sectors, education and research, nuclear, mines and quarries.
The Regulations impose new responsibilities on employees so that they must share the burden of safe working practices with their employer. The employee must not knowingly expose themselves or others more than necessary in the process of performing their work. The Regulations apply to both employees and contracted workers. The employer is required to provide adequate training, safety equipment, and to ensure all processes and procedures are safe and updated. The employer must arrange suitable medical examinations.
The employee will require an initial classification medical which requires a face-to-face consultation and medical examination. Each employee requires an annual medical and this can be face to face or virtual/telephone call. The employer is required to provide dosimeter readings for each employee for the previous 12 months and sickness absence data.
The consultation requires review of medical history, family medical history and risk factors. Advice is given to each employee on potential symptoms and what to look out for.
A certificate is returned to the HSE and employer to ensure compliance with the regulations.
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