Health and Safety Practitioner
A company that provides diagnostic imaging services and its radiopharmaceutical subsidiary have been hit with six-figure fines following incidents at two sites in which employees were exposed to radiation levels above the limit legal annual dose.
A vial of a radioactive substance (FDG) has leaked after being installed in a shielded dispensing pot in the dispensing laboratory of Alliance Medical Limited’s (AML) positron emission tomography (PET-CT) facility at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds on March 25, 2019.
This resulted in the contamination of two staff members with dermal doses in excess of the annual dose limit as defined by the Ionizing Radiation Regulations 2017.
In a second incident, on November 15, 2019, the same radioactive substance was unknowingly handled during the production process at the facilities of Alliance Medical Radiopharmacy Limited (AMRL) at Keele University Science Park in the Staffordshire.
As a result, a staff member was contaminated with a dermal dose above the annual dose limit as defined by the Ionizing Radiation Regulations 2017.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident at the AML Leeds PET-CT center found training and instruction to be inadequate and supervision to be below an acceptable standard. Staff were not fully briefed on localized instructions and were using personal protective equipment (PPE) unsuitable for working with radioactive materials.
A separate investigation by the HSE revealed that at AMRL’s facilities at Keele University Science Park the radiation warning system associated with the particular production equipment was not operational at the time of the incident. incident and had not been routinely serviced and tested at appropriate intervals.
Alliance Medical Limited, based at Iceni Centre, Warwick Technology Park, Warwick, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty to breaches of the Ionizing Radiation Regulations 2017, Regulations 12, 18(3), 18(4) and 18(5)a , and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,382 at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on September 29, 2022.
Alliance Medical Radiopharmacy Limited, also based at Iceni Centre, Warwick Technology Park, Warwick, Warwickshire, has pleaded guilty to breaches of the Ionizing Radiation Regulations 2017, Regulations 9(2)a, 11(1) and 12, and has was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,382 in the same court on the same date.
After the hearing, HSE Specialist Inspector Elizabeth Reeves said: ‘Workers in both of these incidents were exposed to levels of radiation which could potentially impact their health in the future.
“Employers in the nuclear medicine industry must properly assess the risks to their employees and others and ensure that all radiation doses are as low as reasonably achievable.
“Both of these incidents could have been so easily avoided by simply taking the right control measures and ensuring that safe working practices were followed. Companies should be aware that the HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fail to meet the required standards.
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