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Building Relationships

Radon in the workplace

The second edition of the Building Research Establishment (BRE) report 'Radon in the workplace' is now available, updating the former guidance.

New guidance, now available from the BRE Bookshop, aims to help employers comply with the requirements of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999, enforced under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The report targets managers, maintenance staff and building contractors who, under the regulations, are responsible for determining whether or not a building constitutes a radon risk or may be asked to reduce existing radon levels. The guidance offers straightforward solutions that are easy to implement. The updated version includes changes in legislation and provides an interesting insight into lessons learnt using a series of case studies across a range of building types from schools to factories.

Radon is a radioactive gas generated by the decay of radium which is found in small quantities in certain types of rocks and soil. Differences in atmospheric pressure inside and outside a building mean radon can be dawn into that building putting the residents or those that work in the premises at risk of cancer. The amount of radon that collects in a building, and whether or not it constitutes a risk to health is dependent on location, and the building structure as well as the way in which the building is used.

The BRE explains that employers are under a legal obligation to assess any risks to staff in the workplace and this includes exposure to radon, which must be taken seriously however small that risk may be considered to be. In the past, worries over exposure to radon mainly targeted miners. However, the emphasis has now switched to the general risk of radon exposure in buildings that are used as workplaces.

For more information, go to www.bre.co.uk

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.