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Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999

On 1 January 2018 the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) were superseded by the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999
Statutory Instrument
Citation 1999 No. 3232
Introduced by Larry Whitty – Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Territorial extent United Kingdom, overseas[1]
Made 3 December 1999
Commencement 1 January 2000
Repealed 1 January 2018
Other legislation
Replaces Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985
Made under European Communities Act 1972, Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
Amended by
Repealed by Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017
Relates to
Status: Repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) were a statutory instrument which form the main legal requirements for the use and control of ionising radiation in the United Kingdom. The main aim of the regulations as defined by the official code of practice was to "establish a framework for ensuring that exposure to ionising radiation arising from work activities, whether man made or natural radiation and from external radiation or internal radiation, is kept as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and does not exceed dose limits specified for individuals".[2]


The regulationsEdit


International policy relationships in radiological protection

The regulations came into force on 1 January 2000, replacing the 'Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985'. They effectively implement the majority of the European Basic Safety Standards Directive '96/29/Euratom' under the auspices of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.[2] This European Directive is in turn a reflection of the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection.[3]

The regulations are aimed at employers and are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive(HSE). They form the legal basis for ionising radiation protection in the United Kingdom (UK), although work with ionising radiation is also controlled in the UK through other statutory instruments such as the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 and the Radioactive Substances Act 1993.[2]

The IRR99 make legal requirements including prior authorisation of the use of particle accelerators and x-ray machines, the appointment of radiation protection supervisors (RPS) and advisors (RPA), control and restriction of exposure to ionising radiation (including dose limits), and a requirement for local rules. Local rules including the designation of controlled areas, defined as places where "special procedures are needed to restrict significant exposure".

In 2013 the European Union adopted directive 2013/59/Euratom which requires updated Ionising Radiations Regulations to implement the directive in UK law by 2018.[4] Changes include reduced eye dose limits as a result of updated ICRP recommendations.[5][6]

Ionising and non-ionising radiation and associated health risksEdit

The regulations impose duties on employers to protect employees and anyone else from radiation arising from work with radioactive substances and other forms of ionising radiation.[7] In the United Kingdom the Health and Safety Executive is one of a number of public bodies which regulates workplaces which could expose workers to radiation.[8]

Radiation itself is energy that travels either as electromagnetic waves, or as subatomic particles and can be categorised as either 'ionising' or 'non-ionising radiation'.[9]

Ionising radiation occurs naturally but can also be artificially created. Generally people can be exposed to radiation externally from radioactive material or internally by inhaling or ingesting radioactive substances.[10] Exposure to electromagnetic rays such as x-rays and gamma rays can, depending on the time exposed, cause sterility, genetic defects, premature ageing and death.[11]

Non-ionising radiation is the terms used to describe the part of the electromagnetic spectrum covering 'Optical radiation', such as ultraviolet light and 'electromagnetic fields' such as microwaves and radio frequencies.[12] Health risks caused by exposure to this type of radiation will often be as a result of too much exposure to ultraviolet light either from the sun or from sunbeds which could lead to skin cancer.[13]

Key areas of the regulationsEdit

The regulations are split into seven parts containing 41 regulations.[7] under the following sections.

-Interpretation and General -General Principles and Procedures -Arrangements for The Management of Radiation Protection -Designated Areas -Classification and Monitoring of Persons -Arrangements for the Control of Radioactive Substances, Articles and Equipment -Duties of Employees and Miscellaneous

Dose limitsEdit

In addition to requiring that radiation employers ensure that doses are kept as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) the IRR99 also defines dose limits for certain classes of person. Dose limits do not apply to people undergoing a medical exposure or to those acting as "comforters and carers" to such.

Annual Dose Limits
Class of Person Annual Dose Limit millisieverts
Employees aged 18 or over 20
Trainees aged 16 to 18 6
Any other person 1

Radiation-related quantitiesEdit

Graphic showing relationships between radioactivity and detected ionizing radiation

The following table shows radiation quantities in SI and non-SI units.

Quantity Name Symbol Unit Year System
Exposure (X) röntgen R esu / 0.001293 g of air 1928 non-SI
Absorbed dose (D) erg•g−1 1950 non-SI
rad rad 100 erg•g−1 1953 non-SI
gray Gy J•kg−1 1974 SI
Activity (A) curie Ci 3.7 × 1010 s−1 1953 non-SI
becquerel Bq s−1 1974 SI
Dose equivalent (H) röntgen equivalent man rem 100 erg•g−1 1971 non-SI
sievert Sv J•kg−1 1977 SI
Fluence (Φ) (reciprocal area) cm−2 or m−2 1962 SI (m−2)

The European Union European units of measurement directives required that non-SI units use for "public health ... purposes" be phased out by 31 December 1985.[14]


  1. ^ Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, s.84; reg.12
  2. ^ a b c HSE | code of practice Work with Ionising Radiation - Introduction page 6
  3. ^ The Council of the European Union | Council directive 96/29/Euratom laying down the basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation Archived 2010-11-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Directive 2013/59/Euratom - protection against ionising radiation". European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  5. ^ "Revision of Radiation Protection directives including Basic Safety Standards (BSS) and Outside Workers directives". Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "Statement on Tissue Reactions". ICRP. 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  7. ^ a b | The Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999 - explanatory note
  8. ^ HSE | Radiation
  9. ^ Devereux, T. 'Health and safety for managers, supervisors and safety representatives', Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, 2008 p. 240 ISBN 978-1-904306-84-9
  10. ^ HSE | Ionising radiation
  11. ^ National Institute of Health | What are the adverse effects of Ionising radiation
  12. ^ HSE | Non Ionising radiation
  13. ^ Cancer help | Non Ionising radiation
  14. ^ The Council of the European Communities (1979-12-21). "Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Unit of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC". Retrieved 19 May 2012. 

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit