There are two main types of radiation to which employees are frequently exposed in the workplace; ionising and non-ionising radiation. The major difference between the two types is the amount of energy carried by the radiation; ionising radiation carries significantly more energy than non-ionising radiation.
Ionising radiation includes X-rays, gamma rays, radioactive sources and natural sources of radiation, such as Radon gas. Industries such as energy production (particularly nuclear), manufacturing, medicine and research all can involve exposure to ionising radiation, and it is crucial that workers and the general public are protected from the risks.
Non-ionising radiation is found in visible light, ultra-violet light, infra-red radiation and electromagnetic fields. These are used frequently in the telecommunications and manufacturing industries but there is very little evidence of long term health issues arising from exposure to this type of radiation, with the exception of ultra-violet light which can cause a number of health problems including skin cancer.
As with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace, employers have a responsibility to effectively manage any risks to the health of their employees. This includes making sure that the places employees work are safe, along with the working practices they implement. One aspect of this is informing the HSE about any use of ionising radiation, so that it can be managed safely and properly.
One aspect the HSE work with is in limiting the dose of radiation to which any employee is exposed. This is intended to reduce the risk of serious effects occurring, such as cancer, and are put in place to protect the eyes, skin and other areas against any forms of damage. These limits are put in place to protect workers and the public from the effects of radiation and are set at a level that balances the risk from exposure with the benefits that the use of the radiation brings.
Have you been exposed to radiation at work?
If you work, or worked in an industry where ionising radiation was used, and you have developed any illness or side-effects from your exposure to it, the first person you should contact is your doctor. Your second call should be to one of our highly trained solicitors; they have years of experience in dealing with these types of cases, and will swiftly be able to talk you through the claims process and see if you are entitled to claim for compensation from your employer.