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One-fifth of radiation incidents caused by equipment malfunction

1 February 2021

Every year, ARPANSA collates data from radiation regulators around Australia to produce a report on radiation safety. The report shares learnings to help others avoid similar incidents.

The Australian Radiation Incident Register (ARIR) report is a summary and analysis of data submitted to the ARIR for incidents that occurred in 2019.

Consistent with previous years, human error was identified as the trigger for the majority (61%) of reported incidents in 2019. Most reported incidents are from medical imaging.

The latest report also includes a focus on equipment-related incidents and lessons to be learnt.

Equipment-related incidents account for around one-fifth of all reported incidents including software and hardware failures, as well as deficiencies where the equipment used was not suitable for the task or failed to perform as expected.

‘Workplaces should be designed with the potential of equipment failure in mind. This could include putting in place recovery procedures, ensuring availability of alternate equipment and providing effective training’, said Mr Jim Scott, Chief Regulatory Officer at ARPANSA.

From the data received, there were no common modes of equipment failure identified, suggesting faults were not due to systemic issues such as manufacturing defects.

Findings of the report include:

  • of the 575 incidents reported, 114 (nearly 20%) noted equipment failure or deficiency as the initiating cause
  • the most common equipment-related incident is patients requiring repeated imaging due to equipment failure
  • a reduction in the number of reported incidents submitted to ARIR (the first reduction since 2013)

‘The reduction in reported incidents largely reflects reduced reporting from some jurisdictions whose regulatory resources were impacted by COVID-19 response at the time of submission to ARPANSA’, said Mr Scott.

Read more at ARIR annual summary reports.