Legislation and Compliance
Legislation covering the use of radiography requires that doses arising from medical and dental exposures are kept as low as reasonably practicable, consistent with the intended purpose.
The Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17)  relate principally to the protection of workers and the general public while the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017 (IR(ME)R)  relate to patient protection. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)  are responsible for enforcing IRR in the UK, while Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS)  enforce IR(ME)R in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. All dental practices must comply with the regulations to protect staff, the public and patients from the risks associated with using ionising radiation in dental practice. In addition, the General Dental Council (GDC)  currently recommends that members of the dental team involved in radiography undertake at least five hours of continuing professional development (CPD) in radiography and radiation protection relevant to their role in every five year cycle to keep up to date.
Please note that the advice provided in the radiation protection topic is based on an interpretation of the legislation. If you have any concerns you should consult with your Radiation Protection Adviser.
To comply with the regulations, the Employer (see Formal Appointments and Entitlement of Personnel)must:
Appoint and entitle personnel to the roles specified, in compliance with IRR17 and IR(ME)R17 (see Formal Appointments and Personnel).
Apply to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for registration(see X-Ray Equipment).
Keep an inventory of X-Ray Equipmentand ensure that the equipment is properly tested and maintained.
Conduct a risk assessment to identify the measures required to restrict the exposure of staff, patients and the public to radiation (see Controlling Exposure and Dose).
Establish Local Rulesto describe working instructions for the controlled areas to ensure that exposure of staff or others to radiation is restricted.
Ensure Written Procedures and Protocolsare in place, fit for purpose and regularly reviewed.
Ensure that radiation doses to staff, patients and the public are as low as reasonably practicable by putting in place measures such as:
Compile a Radiation Protection Filewhich contains documentation relevant to protecting staff, the public and patients from the risks associated with using radiography in dental practice.
Provide staff with Trainingappropriate to their duties with respect to radiation, and ensure all staff are aware of the contents of the Radiation Protection File and follow practice procedures and policies.
Further information is provided in the ‘Guidance Notes for Dental Practitioners on the Safe Use of X-Ray Equipment’ .
NB: The Regulations provide for inspection of practices by the relevant regulatory authorities (e.g. HSE, HIS) and non-compliance with the regulations can lead to sanctions on the use of x-rays.
Radiation Protection and the Combined Practice Inspection
Section 2F of the Combined Practice Inspection (CPI)  covers the required documentation to demonstrate compliance with the Ionising Radiations Regulations (IRR)  and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (IR(ME)R) . A guide to help dental practices better understand and provide the evidence required to satisfy this section of the CPI is available to download from the SDCEP website.
Sources of Information
- The Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017
- The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017
- Health and Safety Executive
- Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- General Dental Council
- Guidance Notes for Dental Practitioners on the Safe Use of X-Ray Equipment(2nd edition) (2020) Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK)
- Practice Inspection(2020) Scottish Dental