Legislation Issues in Relation to Ionizing Radiation at a Work Place Essay

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Legislation Issues in Relation to Ionizing Radiation at a Work Place

Ever since Roentgen discovered and introduced X-rays -- a type of ionizing radiation -- in the year 1985, their harmful impacts on humans have been under scrutiny. Ionizing radiation is, essentially, any electromagnetic particle or wave, which is capable of ionizing and removing electron(s) from a molecule or an atom of its medium of propagation (Bull, 2003). The medium in this instance is our body. In the year 1943, the U.S., France, and the UK began large-scale manufacturing of weapons and nuclear power. The venture became a source of income to a huge number of people from these three nations. Owing to the absence of appropriate legislation, several workers were exposed to harmful radiations that impacted their bodies adversely. While some workers' skins were completely burned, others even ended up dying through exposure to radiation. This is why investigations into ionizing radiation were supported by several nations, following which, legislations for worker protection, were enacted.

Radiations are of three types, namely, Gamma, Beta, and Alpha. The three differ based on their penetration levels -- Alpha radiations are least penetrative, while Gamma radiations are the most. Radiation clearly exists everywhere around us, posing threats to mankind at every level of intensity, whether low or high. Ionizing radiation, however, is a greater source of danger to scores of individuals. One suitable example is a workplace. Therefore, appropriate measures are implemented for ensuring a work environment that is free from radiation. This paper aims to address some key published research, legislative, and administrative issues with regard to workplace ionizing radiation. (Holmes, 2015)

EU-OSHA Legislation on Ionizing Radiation at a Work Place

EU-OSHA (or European Union -Occupational Safety and Health Administration) represents an EU agency whose key mandate is information collection and law-making on occupational health and safety. The basic vision of this EU division is saving lives, preventing injuries and ensuring safety of every worker in the EU; bearing in mind this vision, EU-OSHA has passed a number of legislation up till now, in this regard. One such legislation is the 1999 Ionising Radiations Regulations (IRR99), a replacement of the 1985 Ionization Radiation Regulations (IRR85). As of now, there are no additional improvements to this legislation; it is, however, expected to undergo an amendment by the year 2018. This interval of time is long. People are getting increasingly confused with regard to what the regulation covers and what it doesn't. However, it is crucial to take note of the fact that IRR99 is applicable to a wide array of workplaces in which electrical equipment that emit ionizing radiation, and radioactive substances, are utilized (HSE, 2015).

The Act: The Act's objective is to ascertain healthy work environments and safety for every working man and woman through authorization of implementation of standards the Act has instituted; through aiding and urging state efforts for guaranteeing healthful and safe working conditions; through provisions for research, education, training and information in the occupational health and safety arena. The Act also has other aims. (Lewis, 2004)

Primary Duty under the Act: This Act was primarily devised for the purpose of safeguarding all working males and females from occupational hazards. Thus, employers have a duty to their employees to make sure that the workplace is adequately protected and safe from all sorts of hazards, which are capable of causing any kind of physical injury or fatality (IRR, 1999)

What is covered under the Act: This Act includes every source of radiation (certain nations don't cover these through separate national legislations). The EU-OSHA is an agency, which is in charge of the safety of employees working in every member nation. Thus, this regulation overshadows individual national regulations of every member state. It is imperative to bear in mind, however, that legislations of member states are made in accordance with guidelines of EU-OSHA. IRR covers the following sources: X-ray, equipment, materials produced by accelerators, accelerators, betratons, electron microscopes, and all other radioactive matter, occurring in nature (IRR, 1999).

Who is Covered in the Act: Roughly 6.5 million hazardous workplaces are covered under this Act. This is due to the fact that ionization radiation exists nearly everywhere, and has the potential to elicit harm to individuals even at low levels. The effects are felt months or years after exposure; nevertheless, covering these areas is essential. The Act's 4th section expressly states that it is applicable with regard to employment in all states and all workplaces, implying that the act covers private as well as public sectors. With the exception of a few governmental departments, such as the Defence Department, every other division is covered. (IRR, 1999)

Who is not Covered by the Act: Non-EU state workers, as well as miners and construction workers, the 29CFR1926 covers, are excluded from coverage under this Act. Additionally, distinct states within a nation, which don't have an OSHA agreement (such as Pennsylvania, USA) aren't covered. This implies that workers in such states don't receive protection the act guarantees. (IRR, 1999)

What is Occupational Illness?: The Act defines occupational illness as all abnormal disorders or conditions, other than those that arise from occupational injuries, brought about through exposure to workplace-related environmental factors. This covers acute as well as chronic illnesses and other ailments, which might not be triggered by direct contact, ingestion, inhalation, or absorption of toxic substances and harmful agents. (IRR, 1999)

Occupational Exposure: is one among the most unclear caps of the act. It must be borne in mind that the word 'occupational' is used under the act to define two similar, but separate groups of personnel by EU-OSHA and the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) in different nations. NRC controls and handles particular licensed workers (such as medical personnel and workers of nuclear power plants) who, due to the type of work they perform, may be affected by exposure to radiation. This differs from other personnel types, as these jobs don't cause background radiation exposure. In contrast, OSHA-regulated exposures and, in particular, this act, are based on exposure to background radiation of natural origin. In other words, workers, while on their job, can face exposure to radiation (ionizing radiation / Rn-222in this instance) (IRR, 1999).

Basic Ion Radiation Safety Standards

EU-OSHA, under the regulations, established a fundamental work place safety standard mandated by the law. Every employee working in registered EU member states needs to observe these standards. The aim of these measures is to safeguard workers as well as affected people and the overall community. The standards were determined after prior devastating impacts of public exposure to ionizing radiation. Scientific experts were collaborated with for the purpose of developing the safety standards. EU-OSHA has also joined forces with other teams to deal with events of mass ionized radiation. The legislation stipulates this emergency protocol for quick action during emergencies. The following two key agencies work in partnership with EU-OSHA: the "European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange" or ECURIE and the "European Radiological Data Exchange Platform" or EURDEP. The principal mandate of the former is facilitation of timely notification to relevant authorities when a radiological or nuclear emergency occurs, whereas the latter is in charge of monitoring radiological incidents in each of the thirty three member nations of EU-OSHA. Thus, it is necessary to bear in mind that while the legislations are stipulated by EU-OSHA, roles have been diversified to EURDEP, ECURIE, and individual member states. (IRR, 1999)

Conclusion

EU-OSHA's IRR regulations haven't undergone any revisions for long. The last update took place over a decade ago (1999, to be precise). In this interval of time, there are numerous aspects that have experienced change -- one example is inclusion of new member nations. The initial legislation mentions thirty three countries of Europe, whereas since then, no less than four other nations have joined in. Moreover, aspects such as exposure rates of workplaces must be adjusted for fitting different workplaces, as this will aid with reduction of the confusion, which has clouded this legislation's enactment. It is also worth mentioning that distinct member nations have progressed in leaps in regard to new and stringent measures for minimizing ionization radiation exposure in work places. These measures result from legislations passed in individual member countries. Thus, it is vital to carry out integration of all of them for ensuring consistency with the regulations of EU-OSHA. Lastly, a key contributor in improving methods to deal with and prevent threats of ionization radiation is research. Researchers have come up with innovative and superior techniques which haven't yet been incorporated into the IRR legislation.

References

Bull, M. (2003). Risks associated with ionizing radiation Environmental pollution and health. British Medical Bulletin. Available from http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/259.full [Accessed: 29th October, 2015]

Holmes, E. (2015). Ionizing Radiation Exposure with Medical Imaging. Medscape. Available from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1464228-overview [Accessed: 29th October, 2015)

HSE. (2015). Working With EUOSHA.Availablefromhttp://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/europe/working-with-eu-osha.htm [Accessed: 29th October, 2015.)

IRR, (1999).The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. A The National Achieves Available from www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3232/regulation/3/made [Accessed: 29th October, 2015]

Lewis, R. (2004). Radon in the Workplace, the OSHA Ionizing Radiation…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Bull, M. (2003). Risks associated with ionizing radiation Environmental pollution and health. British Medical Bulletin. Available from http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/259.full [Accessed: 29th October, 2015]

Holmes, E. (2015). Ionizing Radiation Exposure with Medical Imaging. Medscape. Available from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1464228-overview [Accessed: 29th October, 2015)

HSE. (2015). Working With EUOSHA.Availablefromhttp://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/europe/working-with-eu-osha.htm [Accessed: 29th October, 2015.)

IRR, (1999).The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. A The National Achieves Available from www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3232/regulation/3/made [Accessed: 29th October, 2015]

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