The Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/703)
Jurisdiction: England, Scotland, Wales
Commencement: 22nd May 2019
Revokes: Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001
These Regulations transfer the emergency preparedness and response elements of Directive 2013/59/Euratom laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation (“Euratom Basic Safety Standards Directive”) for premises where work with ionising radiation takes place.
The Euratom Basic Safety Standards Directive establishes basic safety standards for the protection of the health of individuals subject to occupational, medical and public exposures against the dangers arising from ionising radiation.
The aim is to strengthen Great Britain’s emergency preparedness and response arrangements for radiological emergencies. It will also improve public protection and reduce adverse consequences in the event of an emergency.
These Regulations apply to any work with ionising radiation which involves a radioactive substance containing more than the quantity specified in relation to radionuclide (an atom that has excess nuclear energy, making it unstable) in Schedule 1, or in the case of fissile material (fissile materials are composed of atoms that can be split by neutrons in a self-sustaining chain-reaction to release enormous amounts of energy), more than the mass of that material specified in Schedule 2. They do not apply where the operator demonstrates the quantity present on the premises would not allow, in a radiation emergency, an annual effective dose to persons off-site of more than 1 mSv (millisievert – unit of measurement for the effective dose of radiation absorbed by the body).
Written hazard evaluations
Operators must carry out a written hazard evaluation before any work with ionising radiation is carried out for the first time.
Where the written evaluation reveals the potential for a radiation emergency to occur, the operator must make an assessment in accordance with Schedule 3 to consider and evaluate the full extent of possible consequences. The assessment must be completed within 2 months after the day on which the hazard evaluation is completed.
Further assessments are required to be made if the organisation makes a material change related to the ionising radiation process. In addition to this, if no changes to a radiation process have taken place in 3 years, an assessment is required within 3 years of the date of their last evaluation.
If an assessment in accordance with Schedule 3 is needed, the operator must also prepare a report setting out the consequences identified by that assessment, called a consequences report, as soon as reasonably practicable on completion of the assessment (it must include details as set out in Schedule 4). Operators must send this report to the local authority before they start any work, or if done after the 3 year period, as soon as practicable after completion of the report.
The operator must arrange to meet with the local authority to discuss the consequences report and supply any information the local authority may require in order to prepare an off-site emergency plan. The operator has 28 days in which to supply such information from the date of request.
Emergency planning zones
The local authority must supply a detailed emergency planning zone (the area around a facility for which the local authority must restrict public exposure in the event of a radiation emergency) on the basis of the operators recommendation within 2 months of having received the consequences report, unless the local authority and the operator agree that sufficient other arrangements are in place and no detailed emergency planning zone is necessary. In this case, the local authority must inform the regulator.
Confirmation of the local authority detailed emergency planning zone must be recorded by the operator as finalised.
Where it is determined by the operator that a risk of a radiation emergency is possible, the operator must define an adequate emergency plan to restrict the exposure to persons who may be affected as identified by the organisation. Regulation 10 further sets out the considerations, requirements, restrictions and other duties which must be taken into account when documenting the emergency plan.
Reviewing and testing of emergency plans
Emergency plans must be reviewed at intervals not exceeding 3 years, but if changes are made which affect the process then they must reviewed at that stage. Operators must test their emergency plans to determine if they are effective. Reports of these tests must be documented within 3 months of the tests and supplied to the regulator within 28 days of their completion.
There must be cooperation between the operator and local authorities in order for emergency plans to be adequately tested. The local authority may charge an operator a fee for the performance of its functions in relation to the off-site emergency plan.
A local authority may request another local authority to assist with making or reviewing its emergency plans or testing of its off-site emergency plan. The local authority receiving the request must assist as soon as reasonably practicable.
Implementation of emergency plans
Operators must consult with any other employer who carries out work with ionising radiation on the premises, and take into account relevant matters arising from that consultation. Employers are required to cooperate with the operator or local authority with regards to preparing an emergency plan, the exchange of information, and the testing of emergency plans as is necessary to ensure compliance to these Regulations.
An operator must put their emergency plan, or parts of it as necessary, into action without delay when a radiation emergency occurs or an event occurs which might lead to a radiation emergency. They must also inform the local authority and the regulator immediately. The local authority must implement its off-site emergency plan.
The operator and local authority must make a provisional assessment of the circumstances and consequences of the emergency and must consult:
- the emergency services;
- the health authority;
- health bodies;
- the Agency (in England, means the Environmental Agency, in Wales means Natural Resources Body for Wales, and in Scotland means the Scottish Environment Protection Agency); and
- any other persons, bodies or authorities which have functions under the operator’s emergency plan, or the local authority off-site emergency plan.
The operator must make a full assessment of the effectiveness of the emergency plans with the cooperation of the local authority. Within 28 days of the assessment the operator must make a report of the findings and keep the report for at least 50 years from the date the report was completed. The operator must supply the report to the regulator within 28 days of its completion.
Emergency exposure of an employee
Where the emergency plan identifies the possibility of an employee receiving emergency exposure, the employer must:
- identify the possible employees;
- provide training to those employees;
- provide equipment necessary to restrict exposure;
- send affected employees for immediate medical surveillance;
- make arrangements with an approved dosimetry service to assess the affected employees and provide the results to the employer and the regulator;
- provide the results of the dosimetry to the appointed doctor or employment medical advisor;
- identify the employees authorised to permit any employee to be subject to an emergency exposure, and give them training;
- notify the regulator of the dose levels to be applied in respect of an employee potentially affected (before any work with ionising radiation takes place at these premises);
- notify the regulator within 28 days, should the dose need to be changed, before formally determining the revised dose level;
- reduce dose levels to a level the regulator accepts if it is of the opinion that the dose levels are too high;
- ensure, if the emergency plan is initiated, that no employee under 18, no trainee or apprentice under 18, no pregnant employee or breastfeeding employee, is subjected to emergency exposure (note that the pregnant or breastfeeding employee must have notified the employer of their condition);
- ensure that no other employee is exposed unless:
- that the employee has agreed to the exposure; and
- the employee has been approved to be exposed by another authorised employee for that purpose.
- ensure that the protective action taken prioritises keeping the dose level below the dose level authorised.
An employee may be exposed to more than the approved dose in order to save a life, prevent severe health effects, or to prevent the development of catastrophic conditions and where it is authorised by a duly responsible person.
After an emergency exposure the employer must assess the dose received by the employee, record it, and make this available to the employee. Reports made as a result of an emergency plan being initiated where an employee was exposed must be kept until that person reaches the age of 75, and for at least 30 years from the termination of the work which gave rise to the emergency exposure.
It should be noted that an employer has a duty under this section to any person who regularly provides a service as a volunteer.
The operator or local authority which has prepared an emergency plan must ensure that the plan prioritises keeping effective doses below a 100 mSv reference level. The dose level for each emergency worker must be recorded.
Where the response to a radiation emergency is underway, reference levels determined for emergency workers may be revised in order to optimise the response. In exceptional circumstances, a reference level for an effective dose for an emergency worker may be set in excess of 100 mSv but not exceeding 500 mSv.
Information to the public
The local authority for an area covered by an off-site emergency plan with a detailed emergency planning zone must, in cooperation with the operator, ensure that members of the public are made aware of relevant information and, where appropriate, are provided with it.
In the event of an emergency, the local authority has a duty to prepare, and keep up to date, arrangements to supply to the public with information about, and advice on, the facts of the emergency, the steps to be taken, and the protective action applicable.
Radiation protection advisor
All employers that do work with ionising radiation must consult one or more suitable radiation protection advisors about occupational and public exposure to assist that employer with preparations for responding to radiation emergency situations. Radiation protection advisors must be appointed in writing.
Those who had a duty under The Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 may continue to comply with those Regulations until 21st May 2020.
Those who had a duty under the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 may also continue complying with those Regulations until 21st May 2020.
From 22nd May 2020, these Regulations must be complied with in full.