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Fundamentals for Protection Against Ionising Radiation (2014) and Code for Radiation Protection in Planned Exposure Situations (2016)

Advisory note

Background

  • Australia’s radiation protection standards are long established. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) published the first set of radiation protection standards in 1964. These adopted the radiation protection philosophies and dose limits contained in the then most recent recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) – ICRP Publication 6.
  • A stand-alone document, the NHMRC recommended that the radiation protection standards be applied throughout Australia via the legislation of the individual states and territories.
  • Subsequent changes to international recommendations have resulted in Australia’s radiation protection standards being revised and republished over time.
  • The recommendations and radiation protection philosophy contained in ICRP Publication 60 were adopted into a new set of radiation protection standards, RHS39 in 1995. RHS39 was a joint publication with the then National Occupational Health and Safety Commission incorporating both recommendations for limiting exposure to ionising radiation and a national standard for limiting occupational exposure to ionising radiation. This was the last publication in the NHMRC’s radiation health series.
  • Following an NHMRC decision to discontinue its radiation health series in the late 1990s, ARPANSA adopted the existing publications. RHS39 was rebadged as RPS1 in ARPANSA’s new radiation protection series in 2002. There was very little difference between RHS39 and RPS1.
  • Between 2006 and 2014, the International Atomic Energy Agency published its Fundamental Safety Principles and revised its Basic Safety Standards. During the same period, the ICRP published a new set of recommendations – ICRP103 (2007).
  • ARPANSA’s Radiation Health Committee recommended that RPS1 be revised accordingly. This precipitated a general review of all radiation protection series documents, along with any remaining RHS documents, with the aim of aligning them with the international hierarchy of documents.
  • This resulted in establishment of a new hierarchy of documents (fundamentals, codes and guides) and RPS1 being split into two separate documents. The top tier document contains the fundamental safety objectives and provides the basis for the safety requirements. The second tier document contains requirements that need to be met for protection of workers, the public and the environment.

 Current situation

  • The fundamentals document was published in the radiation protection series in 2014 as RPS F-1 and details the 10 principles of radiation risk management and their application. It also contains information on the effects of ionising radiation on human health and on the environment along with the objectives and basic concepts in managing radiation risks. RPS F-1 is based on the IAEA Fundamental Safety Principles SF-1 while incorporating the logic contained in ICRP103. RPS F‑1 recognises the imperative to have security considered in the development of radiation protection and nuclear safety.
  • RPS F-1 does not include any mandatory requirements as these were left for subsequent codes. 
  • The first code to be published in the new hierarchy of radiation protection standards was the Code for Radiation Protection in Planned Exposure Situations, RPS C-1, in 2016.
  • RPS C-1 like its predecessors contains the objectives of radiation protection in planned exposure situations, the dose limits for both occupational and public exposure and the radiation and tissue weighting factors. 
  • New items in RPS C-1 include:
    • the need for all licensees to implement a radiation management plan
    • reduction of the occupational annual equivalent dose to the lens of the eye from 150 mSv to 20 mSv
    • the need to engage with other radiation users on the same site (this could be as a member of a site radiation management committee)
    • the need to provide dose records to the employee and to a central record keeping agency
    • the need to identify a qualified expert who can be consulted on proper observance of the code. This person can be an employee or an external consultant
    • a greater emphasis on protection of the environment
  • Many things have remained the same such as:
    • the magnitude of dose limits for occupational, other than for the lens of the eye (see above), and public exposure
    • consideration for accidental exposure both pre- and post-accident
    • record keeping
  • The code is ready for adoption by all Australian radiation regulators.

Conclusion

  • RPS F-1 and RPS C-1 along with practice related codes to be published in the Radiation Protection Series are expected to be the cornerstone of radiation protection throughout Australia into the future.
  • With a strong basis in International radiation protection philosophy for over 50 years, Australia provides a degree of radiation protection that is internationally recognised as best practice.

References

ARPANSA (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) 2016, Fundamentals for Protection Against Ionising Radiation, Radiation Protection Series F-1

ARPANSA (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) 2017, Code for Radiation for Radiation Protection in Planned Exposure Situations, Radiation Protection Series C‑1

IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) 2006, Fundamental Safety Principles, Safety Fundamentals, No. SF-1.

IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) 2014, Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources: International Basic Safety Standards, General Safety Requirements Part 3.

ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) 2007, The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, ICRP Publication 103.