Safe system of work: Non-ionising radiation

Control Measure Knowledge

Regulations are in place to protect workers from the risks to health from hazardous sources of non-ionising radiation which include:

The associated regulations for non-ionising radiation require employers to determine whether the exposure of employees to non-ionising radiation exceeds the exposure limit values (ELVs). In most cases this mainly affects people working in environments known to have sources of non-ionising radiation, such as the telecommunication and metal working industries. However, personnel may encounter such sources when attending incidents.

Assess the risk

Assessing the risk of exposure of personnel to sources of non-ionising radiation should be captured in an exposure assessment, which should include known and potential sources in their area and the associated control measures. For guidance on assessments and sources of non-ionising radiation refer to:

It may be beneficial to use joint on-site training to identify and understand sources of non-ionising radiation, their use and isolation procedures.

Adherence to signage and local restrictions Sources of non-ionising radiation will often have compliance limit distances (also known as exclusion zones) around the source where an area may exceed ELVs, such as a perimeter fence around a telecommunications base station.

Information regarding non-ionising radiation should be gathered from:

  • Risk information
  • Warning signs and notices
  • The responsible person

Most sites or structures that have non-ionising radiation hazards will have signage detailing the type of hazard, safe distances, emergency contact numbers and the site identification number, which will need to be relayed to the fire control room. Warning signs should be observed and confirmed by the responsible person.

The source of the non-ionising radiation should be avoided. If the source of the non-ionising radiation has not been isolated, it may be necessary to establish an exclusion zone. However, it may be possible to work safely near the source if all local restrictions are followed.

Isolate the source

The effects of non-ionising radiation depend on the:

  • Distance from the source
  • Time exposed
  • Power level

It may be necessary to isolate the source of non-ionising radiation so that responders can work safely. The information on the signage will normally need to be obtained to enable contact with the responsible person to request and confirm isolation of the source.

However, if there is no other choice but to be exposed to non-ionising radiation:

  • Maximise the working distance from the source
  • The minimum number of personnel should be deployed to the hazard area
  • The time exposed should be kept to a minimum

Impact on communications and equipment

If there are electromagnetic fields (EMFs) present, fire and rescue service communications and remotely operated equipment should be monitored for interference. Contingency arrangements should be put in place in case this occurs.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions