The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has recently changed the process by which it assesses and grants consents under the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17).
Since the implementation of IRR17, dutyholders have been required to seek consent from ONR and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to carry out ‘specified practices’ involving work with ionising radiation, as defined in IRR17 Regulation 7.
Such practices include industrial radiography, the operation of particle accelerators, and any practice involving a high-activity sealed source.
From 3 April 2023, all new consent applicants to ONR must submit a safety assessment for each of these practices, describing how they comply with IRR17.
ONR consents issued under the old system (2018-2023) will remain in place but will be reassessed under the new system. This will be managed by invitations from ONR to dutyholders during the next five years and in most cases will form part of routine planned inspections.
Similar changes to the way HSE assesses and grants consents for its dutyholders are planned for later in the year.
The recent changes to ONR’s process bring it in line with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards following recommendation 11 of the IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) UK mission in 2019.
ONR and HSE have worked with industry representatives to develop and implement the new process in as efficient and effective a manner as possible.
The Society for Radiological Protection, the council of the UK chartered body for radiation protection, has “unanimously agreed with the view, expressed by HSE and ONR, that the revision of the consents process under IRR17 presents a unique and significant opportunity to improve radiation protection standards across the UK, in line with IAEA expectations”.
Please see ONR’s IRR17 webpages for further details.