Most African member states have operational personal monitoring services for occupational Radiation Protection. The services are either provided through the regulatory body or private technical service providers. In some instances where the service is not locally available, some member states acquire the service from neighboring countries.
To strengthen and enhance the legislative and regulatory infrastructure for occupational radiation protection for the Member States, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) developed the Occupational Radiation Protection Appraisal Service (ORPAS), a mechanism for member states to have all or some aspects of its occupational radiation protection program independently assessed and evaluated against international safety standards. The purpose of the assessment is to review the legislative and regulatory infrastructure for occupational radiation, and the practical implementation of Member States’ arrangements for occupational radiation protection through radiation protection programs by a regulatory body, technical services providers, and operators.
ORPAS Review Missions
Since 2001, upon request, the International Atomic Energy Agency has been facilitating OPRAS peer review missions to IAEA member states. The assessment is conducted by international experts that are selected based on their experience with such reviews, as well as on their knowledge of international guidance and best practices. The review compares the country’s arrangements for occupational radiation protection against the IAEA Safety standards as the international benchmark for protection and safety
The expert team concludes its review with a final report that provides the main findings, recommendations, and good practices identified during the mission.
IAEA Training Programme on Radiation Safety
The IAEA assists member states in building competence in different aspects of radiation safety radiation, transport, and waste safety. To that effect through regional education and training, fellowship programs, and regional workshops the IAEA has built competence in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Latin America. One such training course is The Regional training for serving as Occupational Radiation Protection Appraisal Service (ORPAS) Reviewer that was conducted from 15 to 19 August 2022, in Arusha Tanzania at the Tanzanian Atomic Energy Agency (TAEC). During the opening remarks for the training, The Acting Director General (TAEC), Dr. Remigius Kawala reiterated the need for Africa to train its ORPAS experts who would be able to carry out its peer review missions. Mr. H.B Okyar is a Radiation Safety Specialist at IAEA and a lead trainer of the training explained the objective and goals of the training program including providing information, guidance, and the importance of training staff from Africa in future IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Appraisal Service (ORPAS) missions. He reiterated the importance of having experts from the same geographic region of the host nation for ORPAS as this will help in understanding common issues and share common requirements in occupation protection.
Mr. Burcin also explained that “ORPAS was established in 2001 to advise the Member States, upon request, on ways to strengthen and enhance the legislative and regulatory infrastructure for occupational radiation protection; technical services relating to protection and safety, such as services for personal dosimetry, the calibration of monitoring and measuring equipment; and practical implementation of the arrangements for occupational radiation protection”.
Two (2) experts from Africa, Mr. Wilbroad Muhogora, from Tanzania and Mr. Joseph Amoako from Ghana, assisted in delivering the program and sharing their experience as experts in ORPAS. The training was attended by 15 participants from the IAEA Member States in the African region; such as Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Zimbabwe, host country Tanzania and one expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Training Programme
A team of reviewers participating in the ORPAS mission is taken from members States in the same region selected for:
a) Their experience in such appraisals and knowledge of occupational radiation protection and its application i.e., regulators, dosimetry specialists, radiation protection specialists, etc.
b) Their knowledge of international guidance and best practices
c) Training as a reviewer done by the IAEA.
The team of reviewers participating in an ORPAS mission has direct experience applicable to the agreed scope of the review. The participants were exposed to all stages in the ORPAS review from the preparatory stage by member states to the ORPAS mission and Post mission activities.
The training included lectures and simulations of the actual mission activities, interviews, and site visits. The participants had an opportunity to assess the ORPAS processes by carrying out industry visits at selected facilities; Standard Dosimetry Laboratory at TAEC HQ, NSK Hospital, and Tanzania Breweries Limited in Arusha City.
The ORPAS program included young professionals which are now part of the experts to carry out the ORPAS mission in Africa. “This shows that the young generation has a keen interest in occupational radiation protection.”