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Radiation Safety Technical Services Laboratory Continues to Provide Highest Quality of Service for IAEA Personnel


Radiation monitoring technicians at the IAEA Seibersdorf Laboratory. (Photo: T. Benesch/IAEA)

For the 16th time in a row, the IAEA’s Radiation Safety Technical Services (RSTS) Laboratory received recognition of the highest level of quality of its radiation monitoring through compliance accreditation with ISO/IEC 17025:2017.

The Laboratory, which operates in the Vienna International Centre and Seibersdorf in Austria, is responsible for providing radiation monitoring services to individuals including IAEA workers, experts, trainees and visitors who may be exposed to radiation during IAEA activities. The RSTS Laboratory annually conducts over 70 000 measurements annually, which covers the measurement of samples and quality controls to ensure the continuous control of the methods and the validity of the results provided to the internal customers.  

“An external and independent assessment by Akkreditierung Austria certified that the assessment undertaken was successfully passed, and served as confirmation of the technical competence of the RSTS Laboratory and the compliance of its Quality Management System (QMS) with the international standards, which recognises a laboratory meeting high standards,” said Rodolfo Cruz Suarez, Deputy Technical Manager of the RSTS Laboratory and Head of IAEA RSTS Unit.

Accreditation enhances the IAEA’s mission to serve as a model for its member countries to establish and maintain a quality management system of a testing laboratory for radiation protection services, including individual and workplace monitoring.   

In March 2021, the RSTS Laboratory took an active role in an Annual Safety Review of the Safeguards and Nuclear Application Laboratories at Seibersdorf, conducted by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK). The excellence of the RSTS was recognized by Austrian Radiation Protection Expert, Christian Katzlberger, who in his remarks highlighted: “The outstanding quality of the services provided by the radiation protection services (RSTSU) merits special commendation.”  

Next actions for accreditation

In preparation for expanding the accreditation of the laboratory’s services, accreditation as a Calibration Laboratory will be requested in 2023. This entails meeting specific standards for multiple calibration methods at radiation protection level, for portable radiation meters that test for surface contamination, and dose rate measurements. The RSTS Laboratory currently calibrates over 600 IAEA instruments annually.   

According to ISO standards: “ISO/IEC 17025:2017 specifies the general requirements for the competence, impartiality, and consistent operation of laboratories. It is applicable to all organizations performing laboratory activities, regardless of the number of personnel. Laboratory customers, regulatory authorities, organizations, and schemes using peer-assessment, accreditation bodies, and others use ISO/IEC 17025:2017 in confirming or recognizing the competence of laboratories."  This year the Enhancing Radiation Safety through Modern Dosimetry (RADSED) project, which has been running since 2016, focused on the addition of two new dosimetry measuring techniques at the RSTS laboratory. The Laboratory will seek a request of accreditation for these new methods as they show great potential in increasing throughput and reliability of results. The RADSED project aims to evaluate and compare new dose-assessment technologies to inform countries on the potential benefits and trade-offs in accuracy, efficiency, and costs associated with them.

Additionally, the two new measuring techniques – the Individual Monitoring method of Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS) and Etched Track Neutron Personal Dosimetry – will modernize existing capabilities by cutting measurement time down to hours instead of days, and will introduce a new more robust technique, respectively. These new analytical methods will enhance the working procedure and support the RSTS Laboratory in addressing the expanding volume and complexity of requested services.

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