Radiation protection in the case of radon
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In some areas in which people are present for occupational reasons, naturally occurring radioactive substances can lead to increased radiation exposure. One of those substances is the radioactive gas radon.
Increased exposure to radon can have different causes. On the one hand, there are work areas where increased radon concentrations may occur irrespective of the location of the establishment. These are underground areas of mines, shafts, tunnels and caves as well as water supply companies or radon health resorts, where radon escapes from the water into the indoor air.
On the other hand, due to the characteristics of the soil, there are geographical areas in Austria where high indoor radon concentrations occur in a comparatively large number of buildings. In Annex 1 of the Radonschutzverordnung (Radon Protection Ordinance – RnV), these areas are established as radon protection areas at municipal level. In radon protection areas, all workplaces on the ground floor or cellar floors are affected.
Specifications for this can be found in section 98 of the Strahlenschutzgesetz 2020 (Radiation Protection Act 2020 – StrSchG 2020) and in the RnV.
In order to comply with the protection of workers, the person responsible for the workplace must arrange for the determination of the radon concentration at the place of work. For this purpose, the person responsible shall commission a certified monitoring service. Any further obligations will depend on the radon concentration determined. A list of certified monitoring servicesGerman text can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK).
When commissioning the certified monitoring service, a unique identification number must be given. In EDM (Electronic Data Management of the Federal Government – edm.gv.atGerman text), the BMK provides the technical requirements for generating this unique identification of the location:
When registering, the company details are given and the activity profile "Owner of a location with the obligation to record radon exposure at the workplace" is selected. After receiving the login details and logging in, the locations affected by the measurement obligation are recorded under the menu item "ZAReg master data maintenance" [Stammdatenpflege]. Each location is now displayed with a "Global Location Number" (GLN), which has to be transmitted to the certified monitoring service as a unique location identification in the course of commissioning a measurement.
Instructions for registering and recording locationsGerman text in EDM are available at edm.gv.atGerman text.
There are exceptions to the obligation to determine radon concentrations (section 6 of the RnV). If at least one of the conditions mentioned there applies to all workplaces, a measurement of the radon concentration does not need to be commissioned. In the case of workstations on the ground floor and basement in radon protection areas, this fact must be brought to the attention of the competent authority in writing, stating the identification number of the location.
Further obligations depend on the result of the measurement of the radon concentration. If the radon concentration determined is below the reference level at all workplaces, no further action is required.
If at least at one workplace the radon concentration determined is above the reference level, it should first be attempted to apply constructional measures to reduce the radon exposure at the workplace concerned. In most cases, it will be possible to achieve a permanent reduction of the radon concentration with relatively little effort, if expert procedures are followed. A control measurement is necessary to check the effectiveness of the measures taken.
If the radon concentration determined during the control measurement is below the reference level at all workplaces, no further action is required. If the radon concentration determined during the control measurement is still above the reference level and if further constructional measures are not economically justifiable, a dose estimate must be initiated by a certified monitoring service.
As soon as the results of the dose estimate are available, information on the radon measurement, the dose estimate and the measures taken must be reported to the competent radiation protection authority. If necessary, a statement can be made explaining why further optimisation measures are unacceptable.
Further obligations will depend on the result of the dose estimation and the assessment of the reported information by the competent authority.
After relevant structural changes to the building or organisational changes, a radon measurement must be carried out again. The relevant changes are defined in the RnV.
- Companies with places of work in water supply companies, underground areas of mines, shafts, tunnels and caves, in show mines and show caves and radon health resorts
- Companies in radon protection areas with workplaces on ground floor or cellar floors
Radon measurement by a certified monitoring service must be initiated within six months after commencement of work.
If the establishment in question was already in existence when the StrSchG 2020 came into force (1 August 2020), radon measurements by a certified monitoring service must be initiated by 31 July 2022 at the latest (transitional period).
Depending on the result of the radon measurement, the following deadlines have to be met:
- If the radon concentration at the time of the initial measurement exceeds the reference level:
18 months from the date the results are available for taking measures, initiating a control measurement and initiating a dose estimate if the result of the control measurement still exceeds the reference level
- Four weeks from the date the results of the dose estimation are available for reporting to the competent authority
Further deadlines will depend on the result of the dose estimate and the assessment of the reported information by the competent authority.
In order to benefit from an exemption from the measurement obligation, the authority must be notified thereof. There is no explicit deadline for this. However, failure to initiate the radon measurement is an administrative offence. Therefore, it is advisable to give notification of an applicable exemption within the time limits that apply to initiate the measurement.
- The governor, represented by the respective office of the provincial government
- If the establishment is subject to the Mineralrohstoffgesetz (MinroG), the competent authority in accordance with the MinroG is also responsible for radon protection.
For "increased radon exposure at the workplace", no radiation protection licence is required. However, if the company fails to comply with reporting obligations and/or fails to take adequate radiation protection measures, the authority will initiate radiation protection proceedings ex officio.
There is an obligation to report to the competent authority as soon as the results of the dose estimation are available. With this notification, information on the radon measurement, the dose estimation and the measures taken shall be transmitted to the competent radiation protection authority. If necessary, a statement can justify why further optimisation measures are unacceptable.
The "user area EBB" in EDM can be used as a communication platform between the person obliged to measure and the authority and thus shorten the processing time of documents or simplify the processing.
- Electronic Data Management of the Federal Government – edm.gv.at (→ BMK)German text
- List of certified monitoring services (→ BMK)German text
- Instructions for registering and recording locations (→ BMK)German text
- sections 84 to 86, 98 to 100 of the Strahlenschutzgesetz 2020
(Radiation Protection Act 2020Unofficial English translation – StrSchG 2020)
- Radonschutzverordnung (Radon Protection Ordinance – RnV)
No expert information is available.
Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology