Ionising radiation

POLICY NO: HR-29.1

DATE OF APPROVAL: Senior Management Group 26 November 2003

AMENDMENTS: December 2006

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture; Senior Management Group

CROSS REFERENCES: Occupational Health, Safety Welfare and Injury Management Policy (C - 6.3)
Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act, 1986
Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations, 1995
Radiation Protection and Control Act, 1982
Ionising Radiation Regulations, 2000


Preamble

Radiation is a form of energy transmitted either as electromagnetic waves or as particulate matter. Radiations are classified into two categories based on the effects that they produce when they pass through matter:

  • Ionising Radiations
    - have enough energy to ionise, that is remove electrons from the atoms of, the matter through which they pass,
    - they may be either electromagnetic (gamma and X-rays) or particulate (alpha and beta-particles) in nature, and
    - they have the potential to cause serious health effects, including cancer, if misused.
  • Non-ionising Radiations
    - these do not have enough energy to cause ionisation in the matter through which they pass,
    - they are electromagnetic (e.g. ultra-violet radiation, microwaves, radio waves, etc.) in nature, and
    - they generally have less potential to cause serious health effects than ionising radiations; their health effects are mainly due to internal body heating and induced electric currents.

Policy statement

The University of South Australia is committed to the effective management of ionising radiation.

In all work with ionising radiation the ALARA (As Low as Reasonably Achievable, economic and other factors being taken into account) principle is to be used to ensure that exposures to staff, students, the public and the environment are minimised.

Introduction

The South Australian Radiation Protection and Control Act, 1982, and the Ionising Radiation Regulations, 2000, govern all use of ionising radiation in South Australia.

The South Australian Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act, 1986, and the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations, 1995, govern general issues of health and safety in the work place. These instruments aim to prevent the occurrence of occupational injury and illness and this principle also applies to the use of ionising radiation.

In addition, the general duty of care to employees, students and the general public and of respect for the environment must be considered in any use of ionising radiation in the University.

This Policy Statement outlines the University's general policy on the use of ionising radiation, and of the obligations of the University, its staff and students under the Act.

Implementation requirements

With the adoption of ALARA as the central principle, the University is committed not simply to meeting but, as far as possible, exceeding the protection standards for ionising radiation set by legislation or recommended by the Radiation Protection Division of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Codes of Practice and the National Directory for Radiation Protection.

In meeting the requirements of the ALARA principle, the University will adopt dose limitations for staff, students and the public that are substantially lower than the dose limits currently imposed by legislation, (20 milliSievert per year for radiation workers and 1 milliSievert per year for the general public in 2003).

No work with ionising radiation in the University shall result in doses exceeding the following Dose Constraints:

  • For staff and students working with ionising radiation, a dose of 1 milliSievert per year. 
  • For other staff and students, and the public, a dose of 0.3 milliSievert per year. 

The ALARA principle requires that any use of ionising radiation must be subject to risk-benefit analysis, which will include the risk to the environment as well as humans and, where necessary, the risks associated with the long-term management of radiation sources and any resultant waste.

  • The primary responsibility for this risk-benefit analysis lies with those initiating the work with ionising radiation. These will be the principal investigators in the case of research projects or contracts, and the course co-ordinators responsible for teaching courses in which ionising radiation is used. 
  • Analysis of the risks arising from emergency situations must be carried out for any source of ionising radiation that could, if misused, subject any person to a dose of greater than 2.0 milliSievert before intervention. 

The University will meet these goals and give effect to this Policy through a comprehensive Ionising Radiation Management Plan, which will include physical control measures, and the management of training, supervision and recording of all aspects of the use of ionising radiation.

The University is committed to the provision of the appropriate human and physical resources to meet these policy goals and to manage the radiation safety program effectively.

All members of the University, both staff and students, have responsibilities for ensuring the application of this Policy. Specific responsibilities are detailed in this Policy and in the Ionising Radiation Management Plan.

This Policy will apply to all aspects of work with ionising radiation carried out by staff and students of the University, whether at a University Campus, or in the field. This Policy sets the minimum standards that must apply when staff or students are working at another institution.

Responsibilities

The University recognises that the requirements of the South Australian Radiation Protection and Control Act, 1982, and associated Regulations, are linked with specific responsibilities exercised as follows: 

The Vice-Chancellor, as the Responsible Officer, and the members of the Senior Management Group have responsibility for meeting the requirements of the SA Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act, 1986, the SA Radiation Protection and Control Act, 1982, and associated Regulations. The Senior Management Group (SMG) adopts this Policy and the Ionising Radiation Management Plan and delegates particular aspects of the plan in accordance with the University's general management policies.

In particular, SMG is responsible for providing sufficient resources for the University to meet the requirements of the legislation and this Policy, and for appointing a University Radiation Safety Officer.

Oversight of Radiation Safety is established with the Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture, through the Senior Consultant, OHS&W, the University Radiation Safety Officer, the University Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare (OHS&W) Committee, and the University Radiation Safety Committee.

The University Radiation Safety Officer is appointed in accordance with the Ionising Radiation Regulations and advises OHS&W Services, University OHS&W Committee and the University Radiation Safety Committee on radiation safety matters. Other duties relevant to radiation safety in the University are set out in the Ionising Radiation Management Plan.

All staff and students using ionising radiation are responsible for their own safe use of ionising radiation and have an obligation to ensure that their work does not affect the safety of staff, students or the public by any action or inaction. In particular, they must:

  • Strictly observe the dose constraints set out in this Policy 
  • Reduce to a minimum the radiation hazard of their work 
  • Have knowledge of appropriate accident and emergency procedures 
  • Understand the statutory regulations, codes of practice and local instructions relevant to their work. 

All research grants and contracts that involve the use of ionising radiation must comply with this policy and with the University's systems for the management of ionising radiation. No research grant or contract will be accepted without a specific declaration that the principal investigator(s) understands this policy and the management requirements, and agrees to apply them.

The University Radiation Safety Officer must approve all projects involving the use of ionising radiation by staff or students.

Because the risk of ionising radiation causing detriment to the foetus is higher than the risk to the worker, OHS&W Services must be informed if a radiation worker becomes pregnant. The Regulations state that the foetus must be afforded the same dose limits as per a member of the public.

Specific advice from the University Radiation Safety Officer must be requested and received by the appropriate ethics committee on all research proposals involving ionising radiation and human subjects. Stringent guidelines will be established to ensure that as far as possible individual research subjects will, or might, benefit from the radiation dose they receive.

The University requires all people who are not radiation workers, including staff, students and outside contractors, to obtain permission from the licensed supervisor of the area before entering any radiation area registered by the EPA in which unsealed radioactive materials are in use, or any area in which an ionising radiation apparatus or sealed source is in use.

The legal framework for controlling radiation hazards

The Act and Regulations impose responsibilities on those who work with ionising radiation and their employers, and on those who own ionising radiation apparatus or radioactive materials, or premises in which radioactive materials are used or stored. Students working with ionising radiation are classed as radiation workers. For those activities that require licences, registrations or approvals under the Radiation Protection and Control Act, 1982, and associated Regulations, the University requires: 

At least one principal or associate investigator in a grant application, research contract or project, that involves the use of ionising radiation by members of the University, must hold an appropriate radiation licence.

All coordinators of courses and supervisors of research, where ionising radiation is used by members of the University, must hold an appropriate radiation licence.

All work involving unsealed radioactive material must be performed in an appropriately registered laboratory, under the supervision of a person who holds an appropriate radiation licence.

All members of the University, other than undergraduates under direct supervision, who use a sealed source registered by the EPA, must hold an appropriate radiation licence.

All members of the University, other than undergraduates under direct supervision, who use an X-ray generator (other than a fully enclosed or cabinet X-ray set), must hold an appropriate radiation licence.

All ionising radiation apparatus and sealed radioactive sources, which are owned by the University and are not exempt from the Ionising Radiation Regulations, 2000, must be registered with the EPA.

The disposal of all radioactive waste must be in accordance with an annual plan approved by the EPA.

Management structures

The University will implement and maintain appropriate management structures and practices to ensure the primary aims of this Policy are met. Particular attention will be given to: 

  • The development of a system of regular internal audits of radiation safety, with the results of the audits reported to the Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture, the Senior Consultant OHS&W and the Radiation Safety Officer. An annual report is to be provided to the University OHS&W Committee and the Senior Management Group. 
  • The development of a record management system for radiation safety that will include readily auditable records of all aspects of the policy, including legislative compliance, the register of radiation workers, all registrations and licences required by the legislation, records of training and waste management records, and the compliance of all research grants and contracts with the requirements of this Policy. 
  • The incorporation of the management of radiation safety into the management of general OHS&W issues in the University. 
  • The University Radiation Safety Committee shall consist of the University Radiation Safety Officer as chair, representatives from Schools and Research Institutes where ionising radiation or radioactive material is used, and a representative from OHS&W Services. 
  • Heads of Schools and Directors of Research Institutes, where ionising radiation or radioactive material is used, shall appoint an appropriately licensed staff member as an Assistant Radiation Safety Officer and representative to the University Radiation Safety Committee. 
  • The preparation of an annual radioactive waste management plan. This plan is to be tabled for discussion at the University Radiation Safety Committee and then submitted to the EPA for approval.

Evaluation

The University will ensure that this policy is reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis for its effectiveness in delivering ongoing effective management of non-ionising radiation, with an aim to develop continuous improvement. This will be particularly necessary when legislation is enacted in SA regulating the use of any non-ionising radiation sources. The policy will be formally reviewed on at least a five yearly cycle or following amendments to legislation.

Information

The University will ensure that this Policy is readily available to all members of the University, especially those working with ionising radiation, by publication on the appropriate web site and other means.

The University is committed to training programs for those working with ionising radiation that covers all aspects of radiation safety relevant to their work, and to providing information for others who may be exposed to ionising radiation through their work in the University, including contractors and visitors.

The University will publish a Radiation Safety Manual (which must be approved by the EPA) that will cover all use of ionising radiation by members of the University.