What is RPS training?

What is RPS training?

The term RPS stands for Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS). The RPS is a position recognised by the UK Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17). It is required in most cases where an employer wishes to work with ionising radiation (e.g. x-ray systems, radioactive sources and similar).

In order for the employer to appoint one or more of their employees as an RPS, the employee should attend an RPS training course. Usually the RPS course is provided outside the company (i.e. only the nuclear industry, other very large users of radiation and perhaps some hospitals provide their own in-house courses). Pre-Covid RPS courses would normally be held at a training venue arranged by the training provider in the form of public face-2-face training. During the pandemic many courses have been run online using Teams or similar. Ionactive took a different approach and created a popular multimedia online RPS training course.

Attending a RPS training course does not make that individual an RPS. To become an RPS the employee needs to attend a suitable training course and then be appointed in writing by their manager or other suitable person. The type of training and number of RPS positions required will depend on the nature of the work with ionising radiation and usually the employer would consult with a Radiation Protection Adviser to determine what is required.

In some cases attendees of RPS training are not appointed into post after completion of the course. This is usually due to the employer wishing certain employees to be trained to a recognised standard in radiation safety, but without the need to then take on a RPS position formally.

What happens at an RPS training course?

At the time of writing the exact nature of RPS training may vary if it is being taken online, or live via Teams / Zoom or similar. A good RPS training course will have a little maths and physics - this is unavoidable. However, this is at a level which does not require any previous formal education in either subject. It is more important that the training delegate is interested and willing to take the training rather than come prepared with formal qualifications. The course will also contain some elements of health and safety law including a summary of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17). A course will generally cover some of the following matters:

  • Basic introduction to ionising radiations and their biological effects
  • Units used in radiation protection (e.g. for dose and radioactivity)
  • The basic protection principles (e.g. time, distance, shielding and potentially containment)
  • Contingency arrangements (what to do when things go wrong)
  • Radiation monitoring and dosimetry (i.e. workplace and personal monitoring)
  • The content of Local Rules (the 'do' and 'do not').
  • The role of the RPA
  • The role of the RPS

Suitable courses will also usually include a small test so that an 'achievement' certificate can be awarded (this more valuable to the delegate and employer than an 'attendance' certificate.

Whereas some training providers will offer 'sector' (or source) specific RPS training (e.g. x-ray or unsealed radioactive materials), from the very beginning Ionactive has provide courses that cover all areas of ionising radiation use. Whilst the delegate usually ends up with more knowledge than they strictly need, it allows them to consider their own radiation source use in context with other uses (and this helps in the appreciation of radiation risk).

RPS course providers including Ionactive will also often provide onsite bespoke RPS training where enough delegates all need training at once.

Physics is, hopefully, simple. Physicists are not

– Edward Teller -