New Training on IAEA Safety Standards Concludes

Thirty participants from regulatory bodies, technical support organizations and operating organizations in 30 countries gathered in Vienna recently to learn about the role, history, structure, principles, development and overall philosophy of the IAEA safety standards in the first training course offered by the Agency on the ‘IAEA Safety Standards Overview’.

The IAEA safety standards are a series of publications that contain principles, requirements and recommendations to achieve a high level of nuclear and radiation safety worldwide. Since the first IAEA safety standard was published in 1958, they have served as the global reference for national regulatory systems, and many countries adopt the Agency’s standards for use in their national regulations. They also form the basis for several international legal instruments.

“Lithuania always aims for higher standards in radiation protection of workers, patients, members of public and environment,” said Miglė Žiukė, Chief Specialist, Radiation Protection Division of Lithuania, a participant in the recently concluded training. “Implementation of the IAEA safety standards in national framework helps to reach this goal. As an inspector, I am required to interface with the safety standards on a regular basis and not only understand them well myself, but also to be able to explain the requirements to registrants and licensees.”

The IAEA also offers countries a wide array of review services to assess actual national practices against the IAEA safety standards.

Saudi Arabia is embarking on an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission, provisionally planned for late next year. “This training course provided us with information on how to implement the safety standards effectively, which will support us in preparation for the mission,” said Shahd Noli, Medical Physicist, Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Commission (NRRC) of Saudi Arabia. “It was also a great opportunity to get to know the participants from several other Member States and share experiences and good practices.”

Although the IAEA offers training on the application of the safety standards in specific technical areas, this is the first training course focused on enhancing awareness of the safety standards as a whole.

A continuous pipeline of expertise

Experts in countries with a long history of nuclear technologies have been active contributors to the development of the IAEA safety standards. However, over the decades, younger specialists and practitioners who are familiar with the IAEA safety standards, but may be less familiar with their context and their global standing, have entered the nuclear field. At the same time, increasing non power applications of nuclear technology in medicine, industry, agriculture and research mean that more and more countries are in need of enhancement of their national nuclear regulations.

“The course is intended to contribute to a continuous pipeline of nuclear professional expertise, where the IAEA safety standards are known, understood and applied effectively,” said Dominique Delattre, Section Head of the Safety Standards and Security Guidance Development Section (SSDS), which is responsible for developing the course.

The training course forms part of a comprehensive learning initiative that includes e-learning modules launched in 2020. The course provides participants with an overview of the safety objectives and the 10 fundamental safety principles that form the basis for the IAEA safety standards. “The participants are also familiarised with the scope of safety requirements and are trained to navigate the structure of the Safety Standards Series, find recommendations and guidance relevant to particular facilities and activities, and locate additional technical documents, safety reports and other publications relevant to a particular area or topic,” said Delattre.

The course trains participants on the process of developing and revising IAEA safety standards, and on how countries can contribute to their development.

IAEA safety standards are developed and revised through a rigorous process of international consensus building and represent the international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety for protecting people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

Each safety standard takes between three to five years to publish, and incorporates feedback, review and expertise from hundreds of experts from IAEA Member States in the specific technical area.

“We hope that people who complete the course will, at some point, be involved in the drafting and review process on behalf of their countries. This intensive engagement with experts is crucial to promoting the role of the IAEA safety standards as the global reference,” said Tatiana Karseka-Yanev, IAEA Safety Officer and Scientific Secretary of the course.

In addition to talks and presentations by IAEA staff and senior nuclear experts who have been involved in the drafting and development of the safety standards, the course includes practical sessions, where participants work in groups to examine the applicability of the safety standards in a given context.

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