Thematic Safety Areas

Foundations for Radiation Protection

In 1996, the IAEA published the latest edition of the International Basic Safety Standards for Protection Against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources (Basic Safety Standards or BSS) comprising basic requirements to be filled in all activities involving radiation exposure.

The standards define internationally harmonized requirements and provide practical guidance for public authorities and services, employers and workers, specialized radiation protection bodies, enterprises and health and safety communities.

In the same year, the IAEA, through the technical cooperation programme, launched the Model Project on Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure, a global initiative designed to help Member States establish the infrastructure needed to adhere to the BSS. To address the complexity of this task, the radiation protection team identified key elements, known as Thematic Safety Areas. These are:

1. Legislative Framework & Regulatory Infrastructure

Draft and put into effect radiation protection laws and regulations and establish and empower a national regulatory authority.

2. Occupational Exposure Control

Protect the health and safety of each individual who faces the risk of radiation exposure in the workplace through individual and workplace monitoring programmes, including dose assessment, record keeping of doses and quality management.

3. Medical Exposure Control

Develop procedures and activities to control the exposure of patients undergoing diagnosis and/or treatment via diagnostic and interventional radiology, nuclear medicine or radiotherapy through staff training, provision of basic quality control equipment, and the establishment of quality assurance programmes.

4. Public & Environmental Exposure Control

Develop means to protect both the public and the environment including:

a) programmes to register, inventory and provide safe storage of unused radioactive sources and material;

b) procedures to control and safely manage radioactive waste;

c) mechanisms to ensure that foodstuffs and other consumer goods being exported/imported comply with national safety standards; and

d) tools to monitor radiation levels in the environment (i.e., in air, soil and water).

5. Emergency Preparedness & Response

Mitigate the impact of radiological and/or nuclear emergencies by developing capabilities for preparedness and response through a national emergency plan. This includes training qualified personnel, ensuring technical capabilities are in place and allocating sufficient resources to facilitate an efficient response.