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Sixty Years ago Today: IAEA Released its First Safety Standard


The IAEA Safety Series No. 1 is the first publication the IAEA ever released. The photo above shows part of the cover from 1958.

It was on this day in 1958, barely a year after its establishment, when the IAEA released its first publication: the Safety Series No. 1 'Safe Handling of Radioisotopes'. Published exactly 60 years ago, this was the first of what today is the IAEA Safety Standards series.

“The IAEA safety standards are the global reference that organizations and governments can use to protect people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation,” said Dominique Delattre, head of the IAEA’s Safety Standards and Security Guidance Development Section. “They are the benchmark based on which authorities can establish high levels of protection.”

Up until 1996, the Safety Series consisted of individual publications focused on principles, codes of practice, regulations, guidance, data, manuals, and reports from panels of experts. In 1997, the Safety Series were superseded by the IAEA Safety Standards series, whose publications focus on requirements and recommendations that —although not legally binding— are based on internationally agreed principles.

Safety standards and supporting technical documents cover all areas relevant to safety related to a wide range of nuclear material and facilities.

The IAEA works closely with governments and organizations around the world to develop these standards. These reflect not only the opinion of IAEA experts and staff, but also of representatives of Member States, who review and agree on their content. 

Over the past 60 years, the Agency has published over 400 books under the Safety Series and later the Safety Standards Series, which are among its most read publications, assisting authorities in Member States in upholding nuclear and radiological safety.

“Back in those days, the Agency’s publication programme was an important way to facilitate knowledge exchange between countries,” said Katherine Asfaw, safety standards specialist at the IAEA. “If you come to think of it, there weren’t many ways of sharing scientific knowledge; there was no internet.”


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