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Radon Recommendations for Workplaces

Employers have an important role to play in reducing radon levels.

In most workplaces, exposure to radon is treated the same as in other buildings, by taking measurements, comparing radon levels to national reference levels for indoor radon, and taking action if necessary.

In some workplaces, where levels are above the national reference levels for indoor radon, doses to workers should be assessed, and protection should be optimised.

Where, despite all reasonable measures, doses to workers may exceed 10 mSv per year, employers should use protection requirements for occupational exposure.

Requirements for occupational exposure also apply in a few specific workplaces. Which ones is often decided by the national authority. A common example is uranium mines.

The occupational dose limit should apply when the national authorities consider that the radon exposure should be managed as a planned exposure situation.

Quotes from ICRP Publications

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Most Workplaces: Publication 126 paragraphs 91-92

In most workplaces, radon exposures of workers are adventitious and are more related to the location than the work activity. Such exposures are not considered as occupational… Workplaces in this category include most mixed-use buildings, such as schools, hospitals, post offices, jails, shops, cinemas, office buildings, and general workshops. …In all workplaces where radon exposure is … not considered as occupational, the first step … consists of managing the working location using the national derived reference level …

Workplaces with Higher Doses: Publication 126 paragraph 95

In workplaces where, despite all reasonable efforts to reduce radon exposure, individual doses persist above 10 mSv year-1, the workers should be considered as occupationally exposed and their exposure should be managed using the relevant radiological protection requirements established for occupational exposure: identification of the exposed workers, information, training, dose monitoring (in doses or potential alpha energy concentration) and recording, and health surveillance. In any case, the individual doses should not exceed the upper value of the 1–20-mSv band...

Occupational Exposures: Publication 126 paragraphs 96 and 97

In some specific types of workplaces, national authorities may decide that exposure of workers to radon should be considered as occupational regardless of being above or below a reference level, because the workers are inevitably and substantially exposed to radon, and their exposure to radon is more intimately or obviously related to their work activities… In workplaces where radon exposure of workers is considered to be occupational… the employer should meet the relevant occupational exposure requirements and apply the optimisation principle. If the national authorities decide that a radon exposure situation should be regarded as a planned exposure situation, the dose restriction is likely to be ensured through an occupational dose limit...

Planned Exposure Situations: Publication 126, paragraphs 133 and 134

National authorities may decide to manage some occupational exposures to radon as planned exposure situations from the outset. This is typically the case for the uranium mining industry. Factors that influence this choice include the levels of exposure to other sources in the mine, including external exposure to gamma radiation, and inhalation or ingestion of radioactive dusts… …exposures in a planned exposure situation should be controlled by the optimisation process using dose constraints, as well as with application of dose limits…

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