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Employers: What You Need To Know About Radon Testing At Work

1 July 2013

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As the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, it is vital we all be radon aware. This means keeping on top of testing and minimising our exposure to the gas both at home and in the workplace. Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in all areas of the UK and in properties of all types. It is colourless, odourless and tasteless so the only way to be sure of your building’s radon levels is to ensure proper monitoring is carried out. Radon testing is discreet and inexpensive and simply involves the placements of small devices in a number of rooms for 3 months which are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Radon testing can save lives, so don’t put it off.

What Are The Risks At Work?

Most of us spend a significant amount of time at work so it is important that the premises are tested for radon to avoid unacceptable exposure to the radioactive gas. It has been estimated by research carried out by Imperial College London that 184 lung cancer deaths attributed to radon each year are directly caused by exposure received whilst at work. The Management Of Health And Safety At Work Regulations 1999 stipulates that employers must carry out a risk assessment of their property, which in many cases should include a radon test.

Basement/Below Ground Premises: All employers whose buildings contain a basement or partly below-ground level work space have a duty to carry out proper radon testing as these premises are more susceptible to high levels of radon. The geographic location of the property does not matter; a workplace with a basement must be tested for radon.

Above Ground Premises: The risk assessment for the majority of buildings should include a radon test if the premises are in a so-called radon ‘affected area’. The number of detectors necessary is dependent on several factors including the size and purpose of the building and a radon specialist like PropertECO will be able to assess this on your behalf.

Managing The Results

Radon levels are measured in becquerels per cubic metre of air (bq/m3). if your radon tests finds radon in excess of 400 bq/m3 the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) come into effect. This means employers must take action upon advice from a Radiation Protection Adviser to maintain the safety of staff. In some cases this might mean restrictions on who can use certain parts of the building and for how long, installing radon reduction methods or in more extreme cases it may mean temporary building closure.

The Health and Safety Executive and local authorities are responsible for ensuring that proper radon testing is carried out.

PropertECO are experts in radon, from supplying radon testing kits to installing radon reduction methods. We can provide a consultancy service for employers on radon risk assessments and our number one goal is to work with you to ensure your safety. For more information on when and how you should be testing your commercial or domestic property get in touch with us on 01225 787 929 or online and a member of our expert team will be happy to advise.