Preparing a plan

Make an initial risk assessment

This should identify all reasonably foreseeable accidents and emergencies, their likely causes, and the potential doses that could be received.

The risk assessment should pose the following questions:

  • Could materials or containers be stolen, lost or damaged?
  • Could equipment or safety systems malfunction, or be over-ridden accidentally or deliberately?
  • Could radioactive substances accidentally spill, or be released into the environment?
  • Over how wide a geographical area could the radioactive substances be potentially dispersed?
  • How long is the situation likely to remain hazardous?
  • What is the potential dose to workers or members of the public from any of the above scenarios?

Develop an emergency procedure

The procedure should identify those individuals authorised to implement and coordinate the different tasks.

In addition, it should include:

  • Precise information about when and how the procedure should be implemented
  • Contact details and procedures for the organisations to be notified, such as the EPA Office of Radiological Protection, the emergency services and the relevant local authority
  • The procedures to be followed in life-threatening situations, including contact details of emergency medical support
  • A list of all emergency equipment that should be available, including their type and location
  • A list of first aid equipment that should be available, its location, and the names of those individuals trained to use it
  • The personal radiation measurement requirements of all personnel affected
  • An outline of post-emergency procedures necessary to restore normal operation

The emergency procedure should also include the following general advice covering all emergencies:

  • Avoid panic
  • Never touch a radioactive source
  • Prevent unauthorised access to the site of the incident
  • Retire to a safe distance before planning and implementing further actions
  • Seek expert advice if you are unsure what to do
  • Seek additional assistance where necessary

Ensure emergency equipment is available

Emergency equipment must be available, accessible and functional.  The emergency equipment required by a licensee will largely depend on the practice type. A comprehensive set of emergency equipment is likely to include:

  • Calibrated survey meters, contamination monitors and personal electronic dosemeters - in sufficient numbers and ready for use
  • Barrier materials and warning notices
  • Protective clothing
  • Absorbent materials
  • Decontaminating agents
  • Receptacles for contaminated articles
  • Bags of lead shot, spare lead sheet, and collimators
  • Suitable tools and source recovery equipment, including long-handling tools, pliers, screwdrivers, bolt cutters, spanners, hacksaws and a torch
  • An emergency shielded storage container
  • Communications equipment
  • Spare batteries
  • Stationery supplies
  • Equipment manuals

Procedures should be put in place to ensure that a regular inventory is carried out to ensure the emergency equipment is on-site and functioning correctly.

Provide training

Every individual assigned a role in the emergency procedure should be adequately trained.  They should

  • Be familiar with the procedure
  • Clearly understand their role
  • Be trained in the use of emergency equipment

Training provision should be audited at appropriate intervals, never exceeding 12 months.

Hold emergency exercises

These should test critical elements of the procedures.  After each exercise, a comprehensive review should take place.  If necessary, the procedure should be adapted to take account of the results of the exercise. The frequency of drills and exercises should take into account:

  • The potential severity of the accident or incident
  • The potential doses that could be received by staff, the public and emergency personnel
  • The complexity of the emergency procedure
  • The number of people involved in implementing the procedure
  • The likelihood of the involvement of the emergency services

Regularly review and update the emergency procedure

The procedure should be formally and comprehensively reviewed within the licence period, prior to the renewal of the licence. It should further be reviewed immediately following:

  • The introduction of any new equipment
  • Any modification to a procedure which could impact on safety
  • An emergency exercise