IRR17 (15) - Information, instruction and training

Employers must ensure that employees working with radiation are given suitable and sufficient training in radiation protection. The training must be suitable to allow them to know:

  • the key risks to health caused by exposure to ionising radiation
  • the precautions which should be taken (e.g. time, distance, shielding and PPE - and when to use them)
  • the control measures that are required
  • the importance of the medical, technical and administrative requirements of the Regulations (e.g. local rules and the RPS)
  • what to do (or not do) if things go wrong

The scope of training should generally be derived from the risk assessment (IRR17 - Regulation 8).

RPS Training

Apart from the largest users of ionising radiation who may run in-house training, most employers will send certain employees on Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS) training courses. If you need such training imminently then jump straight to the Ionactive RPS Training Course page or our latest Online radiation protection training facility. The RPS has an important role in radiation safety, supervising the safe use of ionising radiation in compliance with local rules. Find out more about the the RPS and local rules in IRR17 - Regulation 18. We have also produced some specific guidance here: Do I need local rules or a RPS?

Local Rules

The local rules contain mandatory information as specified in IRR17 - Regulation 18. They contain the essential information and instructions for restricting exposure to ionising radiation. The local rules should be read and understood by all those working with sources of radiation and a signed declaration maintained (...i have read, understood and will comply with these local rules...).

HASS Sources

HASS (High Activity Sealed Sources) have special mention in IRR17. HASS sources have the potential to deliver significant radiation exposures when used incorrectly - exceeding dose limits in a matter of minutes. In severe cases of over exposure HASS sources are capable of delivering radiation doses leading to deterministic effects (e.g. radiation burns or sickness ) or even death.

HASS training requirements include:

(a) the safe management and control of HASS sources for routine use, and any reasonably foreseeable radiation accident

(b) emphasis on the necessary safety requirements in connection with HASS sources (e.g shielding, security, monitoring etc)

(c) specific information on the possible consequences of the loss of adequate control of HASS sources (and avoiding this)

HASS source training requirements

The HASS training requirements may contain one or more of the following matters:

(a) training and instruction on the radiation safety measures required when working with HASS sources

(b) training and instruction for those undertaking maintenance , including leak tests (IRR17 - Regulation 28)

(c) training and instruction in fire prevention (e.g. suitable storage locations, fire detection and mitigation)

(d) training in management procedures for coping with any lost, loose or detached sources

(e) training and instruction in the emergency procedures for reasonably foreseeable accidents (e.g. fire, source recovery etc)

(f) information on the radiation risks to anyone who comes too close to an unshielded HASS source, particularly if the source is damaged

(g) information on the possible serious consequences of the loss of adequate control of HASS sources

(h) training and instruction in contingency arrangements which must be followed in the event of loss, theft or unauthorised use of HASS

Other persons (not directly / routinely working with ionising radiation)

Adequate information (and / or instruction and training) must be given to other persons not directly working with ionising radiation. This point is often forgotten. For example, the following may need some degree of training:

  • ‘Goods In’ personnel who may handle radioactive packages.
  • ‘Despatch’ personnel who may deal with the consignment of radioactive packages
  • An electrical engineer who is required to work on interlocks of an x-ray facility
  • A theatre nurse responsible for handling discarded instruments used in radio-diagnostic procedures
  • A cleaner who enters supervised or controlled areas
  • Those required to implement contingency arrangements (e.g. security personnel at a nuclear site)

In the above examples each could be ‘working with ionising’ radiation – even though their primary role is not specifically ‘radiation related’.

Outside workers

IRR17 has expanded the definition of outside workers. All outside workers are employees of a particular employer (A) who work in a designated (controlled or supervised) area of employer (B). Outside workers are then split into classified outside workers, and non-classified outside workers. IRR17 adds non-classified outside workers which were not recognised under the previous IRR99. In combination with IRR17 Regulation 16 (cooperation between employers), Regulation 15 requires that outside workers are given sufficient information, instruction and training in order to work safely and compliantly in designated areas for which they may have little prior knowledge of. Depending on the levels of complexity and radiation risks in the work area, this may be achieved by a briefing, short meeting, reading local rules or an induction training session.

Female employees

Where appropriate, and presented in the local rules, specific information and instruction may be given to female employees who work with ionising radiation. Female employees must be informed of the possible risk to the foetus and to a nursing infant (if they are using unsealed sources of ionising radiation). To mitigate these risks, the importance of informing their employer in writing at the earliest opportunity, of either pregnancy or breast feeding must be emphasised. If this is required, given regard to the type of radiation work involved, then this must be clearly stated in local rules.

If you start from nothing, it is very difficult to get anywhere

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