News

Radon Risk Management: Are You Compliant?

21st August 2018

Recent reports reveal radon gas is not being taken seriously. Are your buildings and assets compliant with radon regulations?

Recent reports have revealed that Irish rental regulations have omitted mandatory testing for radon gas despite pleas from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Undeterred by damning statistics provided by the EPA such as over 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year worldwide are caused by radon exposure, the Department of Housing stated:

“there are no plans to amend regulations to introduce mandatory radon testing in rented accommodation” As reported by Passive House Plus.

According to the HSE, breathing in radon gas is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the UK resulting in up to 2000 fatal cancers per year. Radon is now recognised as the second largest cause of lung cancer in the UK after smoking and it is vital that building and landowners, duty holders and employers understand their legal obligations in relation to radon risk management.

Your Legal Requirements

As outlined in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure the health and safety of employees and others who have access to their work environment.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require the assessment of health and safety risks and this should include radon for above ground workplaces and below ground workplaces.

The Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017 (IRR17), also apply to work with natural radiation, including workplaces in which people are exposed to naturally occurring radon gas and its decay products. Employers are required to take action to restrict exposure. It is the responsibility of the HSE and Local Authorities to enforce these regulations.

Is My Building Or Asset Affected?

Whilst the highest levels of radon gas are usually found in underground spaces, high concentrations are found in ground floor buildings due to a higher likelihood of a slightly lower pressure than the surrounding atmosphere. This allows radon from subsoil underneath buildings to enter through cracks and gaps in the floor.

The Uk has been surveyed by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the British Geological Survey. Employers and householders can access Radon Affected Areas dataset at www.ukradon.org.

Workplaces such as basements, mines, caves, and utility industry service ducts can have significant levels of radon as can any above-ground workplaces in radon affected areas. All workplaces including factories, offices, shops, classrooms, nursing homes, residential care homes and health centres can be affected. Employers who use cellars, basements and poorly ventilated ground floor rooms are far more likely to have problems with radon levels than those occupying the first floor and above workplaces.

Radon Testing and Risk Management

Radon Risk Reports and GeoReports

Radon risk reports are required to determine the risk levels of a selected building (NOT the level of radon at the selected address). They are used to estimate the probability of a building being above or below the Action Level for radon. If the result is a higher probability of radon levels within the selected building then further radon measurements and testing should be conducted in order to reach the radon Target Level.

For redevelopment sites, GeoReports provided by the British Geological Survey should be undertaken.

Radon Action Level

The Action Level refers to the annual average concentration in a home where there are more than 200 becquerels per metre cubed (200 Bq m-3).

Radon Target Level

The Target Level of 100 Bq m-3 is the ideal outcome for remediation works in existing buildings and protective measures in new buildings. If the result of a radon assessment is between the Target and Action Levels, action to reduce the level should be seriously considered.

Radon Surveys and Tests

Radon surveys and tests should be conducted in any building where its location and characteristics suggest that elevated levels of radon may be found posing a threat of significant exposure to employees or other persons.

Radon Risk Assessments

According to the HSE, risk assessments for radon should be carried out in relation to all below ground workplaces in the UK and all workplaces located in radon affected areas (both below and above ground). Reviews of the risk assessment should be conducted when significant changes are made to the fabric of the building or to works being carried out within the affected building.

Conclusion

All building owners, duty holders and employers whose assets fall within the likely radon affected area must be proactive in managing their radon risks. Knowing the key steps in conducting effective radon risk management is imperative in reducing the risk of radon gas exposure and negating liability.

Want to know about Radon Risk Management Services?

Click here and discover how Lucion Services can help you to achieve radon compliance.

Further Reading

Lucion Services Radon Risk Management Services:

http://www.lucionservices.com/services/radon-risk-management/

Passive House Plus “Government failing to act on radon in rented house” 13th August 2018: https://passivehouseplus.ie/news/government/government-failing-to-act-on-radon-in-rented-houses

Radon At a Glance: http://www.ukradon.org/information/radonataglance

Radon Affected Areas: http://www.ukradon.org/

Health And Safety At Work Act 1974: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/section/2

Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/1075/contents/made

Radiation Protection Advisers Recognised By HSE (Under IRR17): http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/rpnews/bodieshse.htm

HSE Radon In The Workplace: http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/ionising/radon.htm

Fast Facts on Radon Poisoning: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305691.php

 

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