Letter: Radiation safety needs tightening

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Sir: Your leading article 'Industrial safety affects us all' (9 May) implies that the system of regulation for industrial radiographers is inadequate. This is not the case. The strict framework of regulation which applies to the nuclear industry applies equally to them. All employers must ensure that exposures to ionising radiation are kept as low as reasonably practicable and do not exceed statutory dose limits. In general, persons who work as industrial radiographers are subject to medical surveillance and provided with routine assessments of the radiation dosages they receive.

Generally there has been a sustained reduction in doses since the mid-1980s, demonstrating the effectiveness of the regulatory system. However, we accept the need for greater efforts in the industrial radiography sector, since there had been no equivalent downward trend in this sector.

We have acted on this evidence and in March 1994 published an information sheet aimed at managers of industrial radiography companies and their clients. This highlighted the risks involved and the importance of adequate control of the work. Your article of 9 May drew on the press release which accompanied it but did not refer to the guidance.

Sustained efforts are needed to achieve a reduction in the doses received by industrial radiographers. But the horrendous case of Mr Neilson is, thankfully, quite exceptional. Our investigations have not enabled us to determine how and when he could have received such a very high exposure to ionising radiation. Sadly, a number of questions remained unanswered.

Yours faithfully,


Deputy Director General

Health and Safety Executive

London, W2

11 May