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Botswana is Committed to Radiation Protection of Workers, says IAEA


An IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Service (ORPAS) mission team member reviews the individual monitoring service for external radiation exposure at the Radiation Protection Institute (RPI) of Botswana in the capital Gaborone. (Photo: Radiation Protection Institute) 

The first IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Service (ORPAS) mission to Botswana last month highlighted that the country has a good management system for radiation protection, which fosters a strong safety culture in protecting workers who might become exposed to radiation in their activities.  

“The findings from this ORPAS mission demonstrate Botswana’s strong commitment to strengthening the occupational radiation protection infrastructure in line with international safety standards,” said Miroslav Pinak, Head of the IAEA Radiation Safety and Monitoring Section, adding that “the mission identified that Botswana could further strengthen radiation protection arrangements by developing training and qualification programmes.” 

Earlier this year Botswana opened its first public radiotherapy centre, with the support of the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative, which it joined in in 2022. Through the initiative the centre has developed bunkers (shielded rooms) to house radiation treatment equipment in line with IAEA safety standards.  

Since becoming an IAEA Member State in 2002, Botswana has progressed in the peaceful, safe and secure use of nuclear technology in various areas including medical diagnosis of diseases and injury using X rays and radioisotopes, and industrial applications such as monitoring the density of the materials during mining and road construction using nuclear gauges.  

ORPAS missions, one of several independent appraisal missions available to IAEA member countries, are aimed at strengthening radiation protection programmes to improve legal, regulatory and technical infrastructure related to occupational radiation protection.  

Upon invitation from the Government of Botswana, the five day mission, which took place from 23 to 27 October 2023, was hosted by Botswana’s Radiation Protection Inspectorate in the capital Gaborone. The ORPAS team comprised international experts from six African countries —  Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria and Zimbabwe — as well as two IAEA staff. The mission covered discussions with national counterparts and visits to a regulatory body, a dosimetry laboratory and ten nuclear technology facilities in the country, including an individual monitoring  laboratory and quality control laboratory, hospitals and a construction company.   

Team Leader Joseph Amoako from the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences-University of Ghana said, “Thanks to Botswana’s comprehensive completion of the ORPAS self-asessment questionnaires in regulation, operation and dosimetry, we were able to conduct a thorough assessment and contribute to an updated action plan that will support the country to improve the safety of workers in facilities using ionizing radiation.” 

The team identified good practices in the country’s occupational radiation protection programmes that have been formally documented at several sites, many of which are working toward accreditation as an independent measure of competence. Other good practices identified included the regular maintenance and calibration of radiation measurement devices such as X ray and gamma radiation survey instruments, and engaging operators in radiation protection practices, all of which provide for a strong safety culture. 

According to the ORPAS Guidelines, a good practice recognizes an outstanding arrangement, programme or performance superior to those generally observed elsewhere and worthy of attention by others as a model in the general drive for excellence. 

The team also proposed recommendations for closer alignment with IAEA Safety Standards, including to develop national qualification programmes and training content for Radiation Protection Officers, to make formal arrangements between employers and workers for obtaining dose histories from previous exposure related activities, and to review existing regulations to for the licensing of technical service providers in line with GSR Part 3 and GSG-7

“The ORPAS mission will accelerate our national efforts to develop a strong and sustainable occupational radiation protection system for a healthy workforce,” said Pontso Pusoetsile, Permanent Secretary of the Botswana Ministry of Communications, Knowledge and Technology. “We will use the outcomes of the mission to develop a national regulatory infrastructure that is compatible with the international radiation protection system.”  

Following this mission, the ORPAS reviewers will submit the recommendations, suggestions and good practices identified during the appraisal, in a report within four months of the visit. A follow-up mission is usually conducted within five years to review progress since the initial mission.  

Established in 2001, the ORPAS missions are provided to IAEA Member States upon their request. To date, 25 missions and 8 follow-up missions have been conducted.  

ORPAS is appropriate for all types of facilities and activities. It also covers technical and scientific support services or organizations for protection and safety in respect to the assessment of occupational exposure from external sources of radiation and due to the intake of radionuclides. It includes individual monitoring, as well as workplace monitoring and advisory services, and promotes self-assessment and quality systems at facilities and activities. 

Learn more about the IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Service (ORPAS) and other IAEA review missions and advisory services.  

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