On the 20th July, Kingswood School in Bath was fined £50,000 plus an additional £19,222 in court costs due to elevated radon levels. It was recorded that 5 children were exposed to radon concentrations almost 8 times the legal limit and two other children almost 14 times the legal limit. As a comparison, one year of working in an atmosphere with a radon concentration of 4,200 Bq/m3 (14 times the legal limit) gives the equivalent dose of 45 years of natural radiation exposure in the UK. Whilst this is not the first fine levied by HSE due to radiation exposure, it is the first due to radon only.
HSE Principal Specialist Inspector (Radiation) Stewart Robertson, said: “The fine imposed on Kingswood School Trustees Limited should underline to everyone in the education sector that the courts, and HSE, take a failure to follow the regulations extremely seriously.” And that “We (The HSE) will not hesitate to take action against companies, including schools, who do not do all that they should to keep people safe. Every workplace needs to consider radon as a risk to its employees and others.”
Some background information on Radon:
- It is odourless and colourless.
- Radon-222 is generated by the radioactive decay of Radium-226, which in turn is generated from Uranium-238.
- The various radiation given off as radon decays can cause damage to cells in the lungs which in turn can lead to cancer.
- There is no safe radon level as the effects are stochastic, but reducing radon exposure reduces the risk of cancer.
- Radon causes around 1,000 deaths from lung cancer per year in the UK.
Legal limits for radon in the workplace are set as 300 Bq/m3, however it is advised to keep exposure as low as reasonably practicable. This limit is set out in the ionising radiation regulations 2017.
HSE’s actions show that complacency is not an option and it is important to remain vigilant with regards to safety in the workplace.
If you need more information regarding radon and radon monitoring in the workplace visit www.ukradon.org/information/workplace
At Pageo, we also offer a free CPD presentation, so if you would like to better understand Radon, what the risks are and all about this latest guidance, why not book in for our latest CPD offering: Radon – Awareness to Action In Construction.