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Radon in the workplace: What employers need to know
Did you know that exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the UK, after smoking?
Not many employers are aware that they are required by health and safety laws to ensure that their properties are radon safe; that’s why we have written this blog, to help you not only understand what radon is, but also how to protect your employees.
So, what is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can affect properties of all types, ages, locations and uses.
The colourless and odourless gas is formed when uranium in the soil and rocks beneath us decays. When it permeates the ground into open air, it is quickly diluted to low concentrations, however if it rises into a building, it can become trapped and build to dangerous concentrations.
What risks are associated with radon exposure?
- Each year in the UK over 1100 people die from lung cancer, developed as a direct result of exposure to radon
- Research into occupational cancers carried out at Imperial College, London, estimates that approximately 370 lung cancer deaths each year are attributable to radon exposure specifically received whilst at work
As an employer, why do I need to worry about radon?
Are you aware that radon is specifically mentioned as a risk in the Health and Safety at Work Act?
Employers are governed by regulations and law to provide a safe working environment for their employees, this includes testing their properties for any harmful gases, including radon.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require employers to complete a radon risk assessment if their workplace is in a radon affected area, or if they have a basement in which employees work in.
The Ionising Radiation Regulations require any employer to act if it is found that the radon levels in the building exceed 400 Becquerels.
How can BCS help employers test for radon?
We provide specialist radon testing and radon mitigation services throughout the UK, to eliminate radioactive gas in workplaces.
Here is the step-by-step process we will undertake to test your property for radon:
- Carry out a risk assessment - beginning with a check of the building’s postcode against the UK radon map, which will show the levels of radon in your area, however this is only a guide and remember, all buildings carry an element of risk.
- If the building is not in a risk area and doesn’t have a basement or below ground workplace, this is the end of the process. Nevertheless, if you do still want to check the property for radon you can
- If the building is in a risk area, or it does have a basement/below ground workplace, this is when we carry out testing with radon detectors, which will be in the building for 12 weeks
- Following the testing, the detectors are analysed in a laboratory to determine the level of radiation they were exposed to, and a written report detailing the results is provided
- If work is required, we will then design the best system and implement it at the employer’s request
What do I, as an employer, need to do now?
Now is the time for action against radon. We can help you to access if your workplace is at risk and work with you, to help protect your employees' health.
If you want to find out more about radon or our services, please call 0333 323 7760 or tweet us at @BCSPreservation.