Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17) Guidance - Part 1 - Preliminary

  • IRR17 (1) - Citation and commencement
  • IRR17 (2) - Interpretation
  • IRR17 (3) - Application
  • IRR17 (4) - Duties under the regulations

IRR17 (1) - Citation and commencement

This regulation is little more than a formality and cites the regulations as the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17).

IRR17 (2) - Interpretation

Provides definitions of the terms used in the regulations. Some interesting terms are included below by way of examples. The full regulations should be consulted for all appropriate definitions.

Accelerator means an apparatus which emits radiation with energy >1 MeV.

Directive means Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom.

Dose Rate means the dose rate of ionising radiation averaged over 1 minute.

Industrial radiography means the use of ionising radiation for non-destructive testing purposes where an image of the item under test is formed (but excluding any testing which is carried out in a cabinet which a person cannot enter).

Practice means work involving:

  • the production, processing, handling, use, holding, storage, transport or disposal of radioactive substances; or
  • the operation of any electrical equipment emitting ionising radiation and containing components operating at a potential difference of more than 5kV

which can increase the exposure of individuals to radiation from an artificial source; or from a radioactive substance containing naturally occurring radionuclides which are processed for their radioactive properties.

Radiation Accident means an accident where immediate action would be required to prevent or reduce the exposure to ionising radiation of employees or others.

Radiation protection adviser means an individual who, or a RPA body which, meets the criteria of competence that is specified by the HSE.

Note: The definitions section in health and safety legislation is often overlooked. Without a firm grasp of the definitions the rest of the legislation is open to interpretation which is undesirable!

IRR17 (3) - Application

The regulations apply to employers, employees, self-employed persons and trainees engaged in:

  • any practice,
  • any work other than a practice, that is carried out in an atmosphere containing radon gas at an annual average activity concentration in air exceeding 300Bq/m3
  • any work with any substance containing naturally occurring radioactive materials (which is a define practice under IRR17). Note this is a practice under IRR17 but we have separated for clarity.

'Work in a radon atmosphere' would include work in mines or any other premises where these is insufficient ventilation (natural or forced) to keep the concentrations below the levels specified.

This regulation is also used to disapply certain regulations for particular circumstances. For example:

Radon Atmosphere: There is no requirement for 'Accident Dosimetry' IRR17(24), or a need to 'account for radioactive materials' IRR17 (28-31).

For persons undergoing a 'medical exposure' there is no need to carry out a prior risk assessment IRR17 (8), or follow the duties to restrict exposure IRR17 (9) for that person. These issues are covered in the Ionising Radiations (Medical Exposures) Regulations 2017 - but note they have a different meaning.

Note that some medical related matters have now been transferred over to the Ionising Radiations (Medical Exposures) Regulations 2017 (IRMER 2017). In IRR17 the following has been inserted into this regulation:

  • 'carers and comforters” means individuals knowingly and willingly incurring an exposure to ionising radiation by helping, other than as part of their occupation, in the support and comfort of individuals undergoing or having undergone a medical exposure (other than as a carer and comforter). Exposures to those providing comfort and care are treated as medical exposures and are regulated under IRMER 2017.

IRR17 (4) - Duties under the regulations

This is a short regulation but is nonetheless quite important. It says that any duty imposed by IRR17 on an employer, with respect to ionising radiation exposure to persons other than his own employees, will only be imposed where that exposure arises from work undertaken by that employer.

This really means that there is no duty owned to a third party (with respect to exposure to ionising radiation) if the employer is not undertaking work involving ionising radiation.

The regulation also imposes (as equivalent to an employer):

  • Duties on a manager of a mine
  • Duties on an operator of a quarry

Finally, the regulation also states that duties under IRR17 will also apply to a holder of a nuclear site licence (under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965). -with some minor exceptions covered under IRR17 (5) 'notification', IRR17 (6) 'registration' and IRR17 (7) 'consent'.