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The Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017

Updated: Feb 16

Do you work with ionising radiation? If so, you will need to be aware of the new Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017 (IRR17), which came into force on 1st January this year.

What are the changes?

The main changes involve the limit of exposure to the lens of the eye, which has been cut from 150 millisieverts to 20 millisieverts in a year, and the way that employers using ionising radiation notify the HSE of their activities.


Under the previous iteration of the regulations (IRR99), employers were required to notify the HSE about the work they did with ionising radiation. That notification process has now been expanded to a new graded approach and the relevant tier depends on the level of risk involved.

The three tiers are:

  • Notification

  • Registration

  • Consent

What do these new levels mean?

The type of application depends on the level of risk of work that is conducted by the employer.

The lowest risk level, applying to work with less than 1,000kg of radionuclides or work in a radon atmosphere above the annual average of 300Bq m-3 requires application for a notification.

The next level, applying to radiation generators, 1,000 kg or more of radio-nucleides above the low and medium end of specific concentration levels, requires application for a registration.

The highest risk level applies to uranium mining, deliberate use of radioactive materials for specific medical veterinary purposes, deliberate use of radioactive substances in products, operation of an accelerator, industrial irradiation, disposal or long-term storage of radioactive waste, industrial radiography and discharge of significant quantities of radioactive effluent. For this risk level, an application for consent is required.

I have notified HSE already – do I need to do so again?

The employer will need to apply to the HSE between 1st January and 5th February 2018. Application is required even if they have submitted a notification under the old regulations.

How do I apply?

The HSE has set up an online application process. This lets employers apply for notification, registration and consent simultaneously. Each of these will apply to all sites controlled by the employer.

The fee structure is as follows:

  • £25 for registration

  • £25 for each consent

  • £0 for notification

When the employer notifies the HSE and the notification is registered and consent has been granted, there will be no need for another application unless the information that has been provided in support changes significantly.

Where an application may not be required

Where the work involves:

  • artificial or naturally occurring radionuclides that is at the very low end of specific concentration levels or below specific quantity levels

  • sealed sources that are type approved by HSE and below low dose rates

  • electrical apparatus that is type approves 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.

then an application may not be necessary.

For further information, refer to the HSE publication, available here.

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