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Overview of radiation roles and responsibilities

Radiation is regulated in Queensland under the Radiation Safety Act 1999 to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation.

Radiation Health issues licences, certificates and approvals to regulate the:

  • possession of radiation sources
  • acquisition of radiation sources
  • use of radiation sources
  • transportation of radioactive substances
  • disposal of radiation sources
  • relocation of radiation sources to outside of Queensland.

Radiation licences, approvals and certificates work together to help maintain safety and it is important to understand how they relate to one another. When you set up and maintain a business that involves radiation you need to ensure that all staff hold the necessary licence or certificate for their role involving radiation.

Operating a radiation business involves 4 role types:

Depending on the size of the business one person may fulfil several role types or there may be more than one person fulfilling a certain role type.

For example:

  • A Possession Licensee may appoint themselves as the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) for the radiation practice—if they are authorised or hold the relevant RSO certificate.
  • An individual with a Possession Licence is usually a Use Licensee as well.
  • A RSO may also hold an Accreditation Certificate or a Use Licence.

Possession Licensee

A Possession Licensee is the person (either a corporation or an individual) with overall ownership and control of the radiation source. This person takes primary responsibility for ensuring the appropriate safety measures are in place to ensure that people and the environment are not negatively affected by radiation as a result of the radiation practice.

Responsibilities of a Possession Licensee

If you seek to perform this role you will need to take reasonable steps to ensure:

What you will need as a Possession Licensee:

Radiation Safety and Protection Plan

If you apply for a licence to possess a radiation source, you need to include a proposed Radiation Safety and Protection Plan for your radiation practice.

As a general overview, the Radiation Safety and Protection Plan describes:

  • what radiation practice the radiation sources will be used for in the business
  • what the potential risks and hazards are and how they will be managed
  • how you will ensure staff follow the Plan, including arrangements for periodic training
  • how the Plan will be kept correct and up-to-date
  • the incident reporting requirements and process.

Every person involved in the radiation practice needs to follow and have easy access to this plan.

Radiation Safety Officer (RSO)

A Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) is knowledgeable about radiation and its biological effects, applying radiation safety and protection principles and measuring, monitoring and interpreting radiation measurements. This person is appointed by the Possession Licensee for the radiation practice and holds qualifications specific to the radiation practice type.

Some Possession Licensees may perform both roles.

A radiation practice is not allowed to be performed unless there is an appointed RSO.

The role of an RSO

Appointing an RSO is vital in the operation of a radiation practice.  RSOs bring several important benefits to a radiation business, including ensuring appropriate radiation safety measures are in place .  To learn more about the role and benefits of an RSO, watch this video.

Responsibilities of a RSO

RSOs organise staff training on radiation hazards and safe working practices on behalf of the Possession Licensee. They also maintain records on radiation matters, including an up to date inventory of all radiation equipment and sources.

Functions of a Radiation Safety Officer include:

  • identify ways to minimise radiation doses people receive from the radiation source
  • arrange staff training for the Radiation Safety and Protection Plan (on behalf of the Possession Licensee) on:
    • radiation hazards
    • safe work practices and procedures
    • individual responsibilities.
  • identify if the Radiation Safety Act 1999, Radiation Safety and Protection Plan and relevant safety standards are being complied with
  • review the Radiation Safety and Protection Plan to ensure it continues to be effective—any proposed changes need to be submitted to Radiation Health for approval
  • report to the Possession Licensee:
    • non-compliance with the Radiation Safety and Protection Plan or safety standards
    • what needs to be done to ensure compliance.

What you will need as an RSO:

Accredited Person—Equipment and Premises Compliance Tester

An Accredited Person (Equipment and Premises Compliance Tester) is an individual with skills, knowledge and experience in assessing particular radiation sources or premises where they are used or stored for compliance with radiation safety standards.

A person who has an Accreditation Certificate is allowed to issue Certificates of Compliance for the types of radiation sources or premises detailed in their certificate.

Radiation practices can only be performed if the radiation source and premises are verified as complying with the relevant safety standard. This includes using the radiation source and storing radioactive material.

What you will need as an Accredited Person:

Use Licensee

A Use Licensee is the individual who will use the radiation source. Use Licensees have met a required level of training and qualifications in the radiation practice they perform and the type of radiation source they use.

As the Possession Licensee has overall ownership and control of the radiation source, they specify which Use Licensees can use their radiation source.

Responsibilities of a Use Licensee

If you seek to perform this role you will need to take reasonable steps to ensure:

  • you only use a radiation source to perform a radiation practice if
    • you hold the appropriate Use Licence
    • the Possession Licensee has specified that you may
  • you do not cause harm or other negative effects as a result of carrying out a radiation practice
  • you follow the instruction of the Possession Licensee and Radiation Safety Officer
  • you comply with the approved Radiation Safety and Protection Plan for the radiation practice and your individual responsibilities detailed in it.

Some radiation practice types limit the use of radiation sources to only what is requested or prescribed by a particular health practitioner.

What you will need as a Use Licensee:

Last updated: 18 December 2020

Radiation practices must appoint a Radiation Safety Officer (RSO)

Appointing an RSO is vital in the operation of a radiation practice.  RSOs bring several important benefits to a radiation business, including ensuring appropriate radiation safety measures are in place .

Watch this short video where Radiation Safety Officer, James Abbott, talks about the role and benefits RSOs bring to a radiation practice.

Third party authorisation

A licensee can authorise a third party to represent them in relation to their licence under the Radiation Safety Act 1999 or associated matters by applying for a third party authorisation.

Learn more about requesting a third party authorisation.