Ionising radiation

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is one of a number of public bodies which regulate work that causes or could cause radiation exposure of workers, the public or both. HSENI’s inspectors advise, inspect, investigate and enforce in a flexible and proportionate way so that radiation exposure of employees and others, arising from work activities, is adequately controlled.

New Ionising Radiation Regulations

New Ionising Radiation Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 (IRRNI17) came into force on 1 January 2018 and replace the existing regulations (IRRNI2000). One of the biggest changes introduced by these revised Regulations is the introduction of a risk-based approach to telling HSENI of your work with ionising radiation.

Under IRRNI17, you’ll need to apply to:

  • notify
  • register
  • get consent

You’ll need to apply even if you’ve previously notified us that you work with ionising radiation. If you’ve previously notified us you must apply by 5 February 2018.

This new form will allow you to apply for notification, registration and consent and these will apply to all sites under your control:

There will be no fees at Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland for notification, registration or consent for work within Northern Ireland.

We strongly advise that you consult with your radiation protection adviser (RPA) to ensure that you submit your information to HSENI at the appropriate tier of the graded approach. 

1. Who must apply

From 1 January 2018, under The Ionising Radiation Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 employers must apply to the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) for certain work they do with ionising radiation.

This is known as the ‘graded approach’ as what you apply for depends on the size and likelihood of exposure.

Depending on the level of risk of the ionising radiation work you do you may need to apply to:

  • notify
  • register
  • get consent

The application can be submitted by an authorised employee. It can’t be submitted by a third party but they can advise you on your application.

When to apply

You must apply:

  • before you start new work
  • by 5 February 2018, if you’ve previously notified HSENI of the work

Work included

This applies to all employers working with ionising radiation including those who work with:

  • radioactive material: artificial radionuclides and naturally occurring radionuclides which are processed for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties
  • naturally occurring radionuclides which are not processed for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties
  • radiation generators, such as X-ray devices
  • work in an atmosphere containing radon above an annual average concentration of 300Bq m-3

When you don't need to apply

You don’t need to notify, register or get consent for work with:

Artificial or naturally occurring radionuclides that are:

  • at the very low end of specific concentration levels
  • below specific quantity levels
  • sealed sources that are type approved by HSE and below low dose rates
  • electrical apparatus that is type approved by HSE and below low dose rates
  • any cathode ray tube or other device operating at a voltage at 30kV or below, and below low dose rates
  • contaminated material that the appropriate environment agency has declared not to be subject to further control

You can find out more about dose rates and work you don’t need to submit in Schedule 1 of the draft Approved Code of Practice and guidance: 

2. What to apply for

For work you do with ionising radiation you may need to apply to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to:

  • notify
  • register
  • get consent

You might have to notify or hold registrations and consents at the same time. This depends on the work you do.

You won’t need to renew your notification, registration or consent unless there’s a significant change to the information you give when you apply.

We strongly advise you to consult with your radiation protection adviser (RPA) before you apply.

HSENI has the power to revoke registrations or consents where appropriate. You can find out when we’ll consider revocation in our detailed guidance document.

Notify or register

You’ll only need to notify or register ionising radiation work with HSENI once, no matter how many:

  • sites you have that carry out work which must be notified or registered
  • categories of work you do that must be notified or registered

Working with a radiation generator 

You must register work with a radiation generator unless it’s used for a practice that requires consent or work that’s exempted. In the vast majority of cases an X-ray device is a radiation generator.

Working in an atmosphere containing radon

You must notify HSENI if you work in a radon atmosphere above an annual average concentration of 300Bq m-3. If you have had multiple assessments, use the highest figure. Further information on radon can be obtained from the following link:

2a. Working with radionuclides

You must notify or register ionising radiation work unless it’s:

  • exempt work
  • work that requires consent

Follow the steps below to determine if you must notify or register work you carry out with:

  • A. artificial radionuclides or naturally occurring radionuclides which are processed for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties
  • B. naturally occurring radionuclides which are not processed for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties

A. Work with artificial radionuclides or naturally occurring radionuclides processed for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties

To answer the following questions, you’ll need to refer to the column values in The Ionising Radiation Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 Schedule 7 Part 1 table on the legislation website.

1. Are activity concentration values (Bq/g) level with or below values in column 2, for any amount of material?

  • Yes - you don’t need to notify or register
  • No - go to step 2

2. Are activity values (Bq) level with or below the values in column 3, for any amount of material?

  • Yes - you don’t need to notify or register
  • No - go to step 3

3. Is the amount of radioactive material 1000kg or less?

  • Yes - go to step 4
  • No - register

4. Are activity concentration values (Bq/g) level with or below the values in column 4?

  • Yes - notify
  • No - register

B. Work with naturally occurring radionuclides not being processed for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties

To answer the following questions, you’ll need to refer to the column values in The Ionising Radiation Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 Schedule 7 Part 2 table on the legislation website.

1. Are activity concentration values (Bq/g) level with or below the values in column 2, for any amount of material?

  • Yes - you don’t need to notify or register
  • No - go to step 2

2. Are activity values (Bq) level with or below values in column 3, for any amount of material?

  • Yes - you don’t need to notify or register
  • No - go to step 3

3. Is the quantity of radioactive material 1000kg or less?

  • Yes - go to step 4
  • No - register

4. Are activity concentration values (Bq/g) level with or below the values in column 4?

  • Yes - notify
  • No - register

Consent

You must apply for consent if you do any of the following high-risk work with ionising radiation:

  • deliberate administration of radioactive substances for specific medical or veterinary purposes
  • uranium mining
  • deliberate addition of radioactive substances into products
  • operation of an accelerator (except an electron microscope)
  • industrial irradiation
  • industrial radiography
  • work with a high activity sealed source
  • long-term storage or disposal of radioactive waste
  • discharge of significant amounts of radioactive effluent

Find definitions of the above work descriptions in our detailed guidance document:

If you carry out more than one of these work practices you must apply for a separate consent for each one.

If you do the same type of work across multiple sites you only need one consent. 

More information

For more detailed information on notification, registration and consent, refer to regulations 5, 6 and 7 in the draft Approved Code of Practice and guidance:

You can also find further guidance and examples in our detailed guidance document:

3. How to apply

Use the IRRNI17 questionnaire form to notify, register or get consent for the work you do with ionising radiation:  

You will be required to download the IRRNI17 questionnaire document from the HSENI website, input your data and email the information you have provided to:

During the application process there are no accounts to be set up with HSENI. 

When you’ve completed your application you should save the information you’ve provided. An Acknowledgement certificate will be emailed to you.

Application questions

To enable you to gather the information you’ll need to register or get consent you can view the questions we will ask you:

4. Fees and payment

There are no fees at Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland for notification, registration or consent for work within Northern Ireland.

5. Report a change

After you’ve notified, registered or got consent, if there’s a significant change to the information you gave when you applied, you must tell the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI). If you don’t the notification, registration or consent may no longer be valid.

Changes you must report

Tell HSENI if you no longer carry out the work that required notification, registration or consent. You must tell us if:

  • you change your address
  • the expected doses change for a practice for which you have consent
  • there’s a change in answers you gave to questions relating to radiation emergencies
  • there are additions or deletions to the categories of work undertaken in a registration
  • there’s a change in the use of portable radiation sources on sites belonging to others

If your employer’s name changes you’ll need to make a new application under the new name and tell HSENI that the work has stopped under the previous name.

For other changes, use your judgement as to what amounts to a significant change.

Find out more about changes you must report in our detailed guidance document:

How to tell HSENI about changes

Use the same form as used when applying to HSENI.

6. Contact us

If you need to contact the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland before you apply to notify, register or get consent, please contact us by email or telephone:

Other notifications required under IRR2017

Other reasons you may need to notify HSENI under the IRR2017 include:

  • where a radiation employer suspects or has been informed that an overexposure has occurred (see regulation 25)
  • notifications of certain occurrences such as losses, spillages or releases of certain quantities of radioactive substances (see regulation 30)
  • where an employer suspects or has been informed that a person, while undergoing a medical exposure, was exposed to ionising radiation to a much greater extent than intended, as the result of a malfunction or defect in radiation equipment (see regulation 32)

If you need to notify HSENI or gain authorisation for any of these reasons please e-mail the following address:

Classified persons and medical surveillance

The overarching duty in the Ionising Radiations Regulations (NI) 2017 (IRRNI2017) is to restrict exposure so far as is reasonably practicable (IRRNI2017) regulation 8(1)).

The radiation employer should, in consultation with their Radiation Protection Adviser, carry out an assessment of the risk associated with the proposed work in accordance with regulation 7 of IRRNI2017 or regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000  (MHSWR).  One of the outputs of the risk assessment is to identify if individuals should be classified. If the assessment of potential exposure shows that restriction of their doses below the levels specified in regulation 18(2) IRRNI2017 (that is, employees are likely to receive an effective dose in excess of 6mSv per year or an equivalent dose in excess of 3/10ths of any relevant dose limit) could not reasonably be ensured even with written arrangements, people working in the area should be classified.  

If an assessment of the potential exposure shows that the work could be done by employees who are not classified persons, HSE would normally expect entry into controlled areas to be allowed under suitable written arrangements (local rules). Entry under suitable written arrangements should not involve a system of work sharing simply to avoid classifying the people working in the controlled area.

Employees who have been designated as classified will be made subject to medical surveillance and have their doses appropriately assessed and recorded.

You will need an appointed doctor or employment medical adviser if your employees are subject to medical surveillance under the Ionising Radiations Regulations (NI) 2017. The appointed doctor is responsible for checking whether employees are medically fit to work with ionising radiation.

What information must I provide under REPPIR?

The Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 (REPPIR) requires that operators or carriers who handle or transport radioactive substances in excess of the threshold quantities specified in schedule 2 of REPPIR, carry out a risk assessment (termed a hazard identification and risk evaluation, or ‘HIRE’) and send a report of the assessment to HSENI. Operators must do this twelve months before the work is to be undertaken, whilst carriers must notify 28 days before – unless agreed beforehand by HSENI.

The HIRE’s submitted should contain sufficient information and appropriate cross references for HSENI to confirm the outcome of the assessments. The HIRE should be sufficient to demonstrate that:

  • all hazards arising from that work with the potential to cause a radiation accident have been identified
  • the nature and magnitude of the risks to employers and other persons arising from those hazards have been evaluated
  • when a material change takes place to the work, a further assessment must be made

The HIRE should be reviewed every three years and updated if the work has changed in any way, or if there have not been any changes of circumstances then a declaration signed to that effect.

If any of the above applies to you then please submit a HIRE assessment. The following link outlines the information which must be provided:

When do I report an incident to HSENI?

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (NI) 1997 (RIDDOR) require certain radiation-related events to be reported to HSENI, including:

  • the malfunction of a radiation generator or its ancillary equipment – during industrial radiography and irradiation of food, or the processing of products by irradiation – causing it to fail to de-energise at the end of the intended exposure period
  • the malfunction of equipment used in industrial radiography or gamma irradiation, causing a radioactive source to fail to return to its safe position by normal means at the end of the intended exposure period
  • RIDDOR guidance

Other ways to notify HSENI

Notifications made under IRRNI2017 and REPPIR can also be sent to the following email address:

Alternatively, if your application, and any supporting documentation cannot be sent by email, please contact us on 028 9024 3249 and we will make arrangements for a postal application.

The following information should be available on request and is of assistance to HSENI if it is forwarded at this stage:

  • a brief description of the work intended to be undertaken with ionising radiation
  • particulars of the source(s) of ionising radiation including the type of electrical equipment used or the nature of any radioactive substance.
  • name of radiation protection adviser