Learnings From Inspections: Ultraviolet (UV) Signage

Two ultraviolet lights

UV equipment without the correct signage/warning labels accounted for 30% of all incorrect signage found in ARPANSA inspections over the last 3 years. This affected a range of UV sources used in biological safety cabinets (laminar flow or biohazard) and transilluminators. 

Signage requirements are set out in RPS 12 Radiation Protection Standard for Occupational Exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (2006) and Australian Standards such as AS/NZS 2243.5 NIR laboratory standard (2004). Instead of Australian Standard compliant signage, often signs from Europe or the USA are used. There is a risk of confusion and lack of hazard awareness if signs are inconsistently used across the industry.

Correct Incorrect Incorrect Incorrect Incorrect
Correct - AS 1319 Safety signs for the occupational environment (1994) Incorrect - IEC 60417 label for UV equipment (not currently adopted in Australia) Incorrect - ISO 7010 symbol for optical radiation (not currently adopted in Australia) Incorrect – not to be used - only used for lasers Incorrect – not to be used - only used for ionising radiation
Correct - AS 1319 Safety signs for the occupational environment (1994) Incorrect - IEC 60417 label for UV equipment
(not currently adopted in Australia)
Incorrect - ISO 7010 symbol for optical radiation
(not currently adopted in Australia)
Incorrect – not to be used - only used for lasers Incorrect – not to be used - only used for ionising radiation

Causes of incorrect signage

When UV equipment is purchased from overseas, online or through a supplier it often comes with overseas warning labels attached. As these types of sources are not regulated by most states and territory radiation regulators, suppliers and staff may not be aware of the correct labelling.

How you can improve UV signage

To prevent the use of incorrect signage, you should perform your own checks of equipment against applicable standards periodically and when changes occur (such as when commissioning new equipment). The frequency of checks should be graded based on risk, inventory, and the frequency of changes. It is typically a requirement of most ARPANSA licences that these checks are carried out at least every three years. You may purchase UV signage or print and stick UV signage for your needs, ensuring the image features, ratios and colour are accurately reproduced as they appear in the relevant standard.

To assist in carrying out these self-assessments ARPANSA has, in conjunction with licence holders, developed a checklist for UV apparatus that is available online through the iAuditor website. This app allows you to perform the checks and submit results to your radiation safety officer or to ARPANSA. 

You should consider how checks are integrated with your current safety and compliance monitoring processes. Performing checks yourself demonstrates a proactive approach to compliance and is supported and encouraged by ARPANSA.