Over 500 experts from all over the world are to exchange information and experiences on strengthening the protection of workers from radiation.
An international conference on Occupational Radiation Protection organised by the International Labour Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency began in Geneva on Monday to review international standards and recommendations on occupational radiation protection. Experts at the conference will also review what progress has been made over the past 20 years on the subject of radiation-related occupational health hazards and will identify priority actions leading to an improved global occupational radiation protection system.
While radiation exposure is commonly associated with those working in the nuclear field or dealing with radioactive sources, workers in other professions, such as miners, aircrew, researchers, and even healthcare professionals can also become seriously affected if adequate measures are not taken.
Workers, communities and environment
Experts are also concerned about accidents in nuclear power plants that can have catastrophic effects not only for the workers but also for communities and the environment. Experts opine that strict preventive and control measures therefore need to be in place.
“It has been a constitutional objective of the ILO since its establishment in 1919 to protect the health of workers,” said Vic Van Vuuren, Deputy-Director General for Policy Officer in Charge. “Today, we are still a long way away from this objective. Work-related deaths and injuries including those caused by exposure to radiation take a particularly heavy toll, especially in developing countries, where national systems for occupational safety and health are not well established.”
“This conference will serve as an excellent opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience and set the course for further concrete progress in enhancing the radiation protection of workers in all industries and countries and in making working environments safer and healthier, notably though building a global preventative culture.”
1960 convention on radiation protection
In June 1960, the International Labour Conference adopted the Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 (No. 115) , and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 114) . The Convention applies to all activities involving the exposure of workers to ionizing radiation in the course of their work and provides that each Member of the ILO which ratifies it shall give effect to its provisions by means of laws or regulations, codes of practice or other appropriate means.
It is the only international legal instrument that addresses the protection of workers against radiation. The Convention has been ratified by 50 countries .
Image: J.R. Donovan / IAEA