Exemptions from the use licence requirement

Some users may be exempted from the requirement to obtain a licence by one of the following provisions.

Use under the direct supervision or written instructions of an authorised person

Section 21(4) of the Radiation Safety Act 2016 allows individuals who don’t hold a use licence to use radiation source under direct supervision of an authorised person or under the written instructions of an authorised person (ie, a use licence holder or authorised by regulations to perform a prescribed activity involving the radiation source)

Our current interpretation of the definition of ‘direct supervision’ (section 5 of the Act) is that the authorised person is physically present on site, so the person can immediately intervene to reduce or mediate any risk of harm if necessary.

A use or activity can be considered mechanical or procedural if the following aspects are satisfied.

  • all uses are performed within the scope of the use licence or other authorisations given to the person by regulations who provides the written instructions.
  • safety can be ensured by the configuration of the facility, equipment design and standard operating procedures.
  • any medical exposures require minimal clinical judgment.
  • there are minimal training requirements in order to satisfy the fundamental requirements (section 9-12 of the Radiation Safety Act 2016)
  • there has been no or minimal problems with safety within the organisation’s operation.

Passive or limited use authorised by a source licence issued to a managing entity

Section 17 may authorise individual workers of an organisation (ie, managing entity defined in the new codes of practice) that holds a source licence to conduct activities involving passive or limited use of the radiation source, such as the observation of the radiation source to obtain information. The following uses are considered passive or limited use.

  • use of fixed industrial gauges
  • use of irradiating apparatus for non-medical purposes other than industrial radiography or the
    manufacture of radioactive material
  • use of nuclear density meters.

For other uses or activities, it is recommended that you consult the Office of Radiation Safety. Generally, the following aspects are assessed to decide whether an activity can be considered passive or limited use.

  • all use is within the scope of the authorisation granted in the source licence
  • safety can be largely ensured by facility design, equipment design and simple operating procedures
  • no medical exposures are involved
  • there are minimal training requirements in order to satisfy the fundamental requirements in the Act
  • there is no  or minimal safety problems associated with safety within the organisations’ operations.

Exemption provisions in the Radiation Safety Regulations 2016

Regulation 10 to 14 of the Radiation Safety Regulations 2016 provide exemptions to certain classes of radiation sources to be used without a use licence. The exempt types of sources are:

  • americium-241 in smoke detectors
  • Nickel-63 and hydrogen-3 in electron capture devices
  • H-3 used as a light source
  • Irradiating apparatus used for X-ray diffraction or X-ray fluorescence such as bench top XRFs that are completely and permanently enclosed to prevent access of any part of the body to the primary X-ray beam
  • Radioactive material temporarily entering NZ with the intent that it will leave again.

For further details about the criteria for each type, please refer to the provisions in the Regulations.

Exemption for certain health practitioners and veterinarians

Schedule 3 exempts certain health practitioners and veterinarians from the use licence requirement if they meet the criteria of their scope when using radiation source for activities set out in the Schedule.

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