In November 1999, the Radiation Health Committee (RHC) considered a proposal that set out a process for the development of the Radiation Protection Series (RPS) publications. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) transferred responsibility for administration of the current Radiation Health Series publications to ARPANSA and rescinded publications that were more than ten years old.
The RPS series was established by reviewing the NHMRC Radiation Health Series of 34 publications, and the Nuclear Codes developed under the Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978, and examining the need for new publications to complement the existing set. The RHC also considered the priority for these reviews in developing the RPS series. The first publication in the new ARPANSA Radiation Protection Series was completed during 2001.
Until 2014, the RPS consisted of Codes of Practice, Radiation Protection Standards, Safety Guides and Recommendations. In 2014, the hierarchy of the Radiation Protection Series was changed to make it consistent with IAEA publications. The new RPS document hierarchy is:
Fundamentals that set the fundamental principles for radiation protection and describe the fundamental safety and security objectives. They are written in an explanatory and non-regulatory style and describe the basic concepts and objectives of international best practice.
Codes that are regulatory in style and may be referenced by regulations or conditions of licence. They contain either general safety or security requirements which may be applicable for all dealings with radiation, or practice-specific requirements. They provide overarching requirements and are expressed as ‘must’ statements which are to be satisfied to ensure an acceptable level of safety and/or security.
Guides that provide recommendations and guidance on how to comply with the Codes or apply the principles of the Fundamentals. They are written in an explanatory and non-regulatory style and indicate the measures recommended for good practice. They are generally expressed as 'should' statements.
RPS documents issued prior to 2014 will be incorporated into the new hierarchy when revised.
Publications are drafted by working groups which are led by a RHC member with technical support provided by ARPANSA. When a publication is approved by the RHC, it is recommended to the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council (RHSAC) for endorsement. The RHSAC then recommends that the CEO publish the document as part of the Radiation Protection Series.
All publications developed by ARPANSA that could potentially be used by regulators as conditions of licence or registration are subject to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Best Practice Regulation - A Guide for Ministerial Councils and National Standard Setting Bodies (Oct 2007). This means that such publications are treated as 'quasi-regulation' and are required to undergo a process of regulatory impact assessment to the satisfaction of the Office of Best Practice Regulation.
The process includes a period of public consultation (for a minimum of one month). Drafts are published in the have your say section of this website along with the regulatory impact statement. Publications that do not require regulatory impact statements are also released for a period of public comment at the draft stage. A wide range of interested groups and individuals are informed that the publication is available for comment, and for publications with a wide public interest, the comment period is advertised in relevant newspapers. Specific instructions for making submissions are released with each draft.
Codes produced by ARPANSA play a role in improving uniformity of radiation protection practices throughout Australia. They are referenced in the National Directory on Radiation Protection, which has been developed through the Radiation Health Committee as the means of promoting uniformity across jurisdictions.
The following publications from the Radiation Health Series are currently being reviewed:
- No. 31 Code of Practice for the safe use of industrial radiography equipment (1989)
- No. 35 Code of practice for the near-surface disposal of radioactive waste in Australia (1992)
In addition, there are RHC working groups currently developing the following RPS documents:
- Guide for Emergency Preparedness and Response
- Revision of RPS 14 Code of Practice for Radiation Protection in the Medical Applications of Ionizing Radiation (2008)
- Fundamentals for Protection Against Non-Ionising Radiation
From time to time, the Radiation Health Committee issues statements which provide details on the Committee's position on a range of topics relating to radiation health.