Leonard Ncube,[email protected]

THE Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) has called upon organisations that deal with significant radiation processes at their premises to implement measures that promote best practices and safety in the workplace.

This comes as RPAZ is working on aligning radiation laws and establishing a national radioactive waste management facility that is expected to be operationalised later this year.

RPAZ conducted a national nuclear and radiological safety and security workshop in Victoria Falls targeting decision-makers who included mid to senior management level staff with responsibility for the management of radiation at the workplace for occupational and public protection.

They were drawn from different organisations countrywide. The aim of the meeting was to establish and strengthen a safety and security culture at workplaces for the protection of workers, the public and the environment against the effects of radiation.

Participants were drawn from medical facilities, industry, research institutions and regulatory bodies.

The workshop was a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration and capacity building in the field of radiation protection.

Focus was on legal and regulatory requirements for radiation safety, radiation exposure to workers and the public and its implication on health, emergency preparedness, radiation monitoring, and the importance of a robust radiation safety culture.

RPAZ chief executive Mr Justice Chipuru said the workshop highlighted the latest advancements in radiation detection and mitigation techniques and equipped the participants with the most up-to-date information.

The workshop was meant to enhance understanding and promote best practices in radiation safety and security across Zimbabwe. It is important to have continuous learning and collaboration to ensure the highest standards of radiation protection in Zimbabwe.

“The workshop served as a platform to address challenges faced by decision-makers and managers in implementing effective radiation safety measures and an opportunity for participants to share their experiences, exchange best practices and learn from experts in the field,” said Mr Chipuru.

He said RPAZ remains committed to promoting radiation safety and security in Zimbabwe and will continue to provide guidance, expertise and support to all stakeholders involved in the use of radiation technology.

Speaking at the same event, RPAZ board chairperson Dr Anna Mary Nyakabau said there is a need for effective strengthening of the regulatory framework for radiation safety and assurance of the protection of workers, the public and the environment against the effects of ionising radiation.

She said radiation applications are a critical ingredient to socio-economic development.

Dr Nyakabau said in the last five years Zimbabwe has witnessed an increase in the import and use of these radiation devices and sources.

“Such applications are important in the meeting of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) objectives. While this is a positive development, radiation protection of workers, the public and the environment must be observed throughout the life of the applications,” she said.

“It is international best practice and a national requirement for facilities that use radiation devices to do so in a safe and secure manner and to establish mechanisms to determine the safety of the workplace. Management commitment to safety is the core ingredient for zero radiological incidents and events.”

Dr Nyakabau said as part of RPAZ’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, the board is seized with a number of action areas aimed at ensuring licensed facilities have adequate support structures for compliance.

These include the construction of a national radioactive waste management facility that is expected to be operationalised within the third quarter of 2023, upgrading of laboratory capability for food, water, materials and environmental monitoring, review of the Radiation Protection Act through the Radiation Protection Amendment Bill to align with the evolving trends and standards as well as strengthen protective measures.

She said the board had also directed RPAZ to ensure adequate awareness within the wide spectrum of stakeholders and operators, including the provision of expert training programmes to ensure licensees are capacitated to undertake internal audits/inspections. -@ncubeleon

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