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Workers faced decade of exposure to radiation risk

24 April 2023

A COMPANY in Cornwall has been fined after putting its employees at risk of exposure to ionising radiation over a ten-year period.

In 2009, Terrill Bros. (Founders) Limited’s external Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) identified failings in the access controls and warning systems at the company’s foundry on Guildford Road, Hayle, Cornwall. In the ten years following, the company received further RPA visits, reports and advice, yet remedial action was not taken.

The company’s failure to address these issues continued until the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an unannounced inspection of the foundry in February 2019.

A HSE investigation found the door to the company’s industrial radiography enclosure did not have adequate interlocks nor was there a suitable trapped key system to prevent access. There were also no pre-exposure warning systems or automatic and failsafe warning lights in place. Employees at Terrill Bros. (Founders) Limited were put at risk of exposure to high dose rates of ionising radiation by the company’s reliance on administrative controls, rather than installing industry standard engineering controls.

HSE guidance can be found at: Health and Safety: Ionising Radiation (hse.gov.uk)

Terrill Bros. (Founders) Limited, of Guildford Road, Hayle, Cornwall, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(1) of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017, and Regulation 8(1) of the preceding Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. The company was fined £33,750 and ordered to pay costs of £47,601 at Truro Crown Court on 14 April 2023.

Karen Fuller, HSE Specialist Inspector of Radiation said, “This situation could so easily have been avoided by acting on the advice received from their RPA and installing appropriate control measures.

“All companies carrying out industrial radiography must ensure they have appropriate access controls and warning systems for their enclosures. Only then can they be confident that any exposure to ionising radiation is kept as low as reasonably practicable and the risks of accidental exposure are minimised.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”