New act to regulate the qualification of occupational physicians with expertise in radiation
As of 1 June 2017, the qualification of occupational physicians with expertise in radiation will be regulated under a new act. In addition to familiarity with occupational health care, physicians must also complete training in radiation protection, which ensures a sufficient level of expertise in the health effects of radiation and the risks of radiation in different work tasks that expose employees to radiation. The President of the Republic intends to confirm the relevant legislative changes on 24 March.
In future, only a physician that has been recognised through the new procedure can work as an occupational physician monitoring the health of workers in category A either in the private or public sector. Workers in category A are employees that may in their work be exposed to radiation to such an extent that personal monitoring of radiation doses must be arranged for them.
The right to work as an occupational physician with expertise in radiation will in future be granted by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health estimates that 30–40 physicians will apply each year to Valvira for the recognition of this qualification. The majority of occupational physicians do not work with employees that are exposed to radiation in their work. All occupational physicians are therefore not required to complete the radiation protection training referred to in the new act.
Until now, the qualification of a physician responsible for medical surveillance has been recognised by the Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) on application. Valvira will begin to maintain on their website a list of occupational physicians with expertise in radiation who are recorded in the Central Register of Healthcare Professionals (Terhikki). Currently, about 460 physicians with a qualification recognised by the Nuclear Safety Authority are in the Authority’s register. The details of these physicians will be submitted to Valvira for verification. After verification, Valvira adds the approved physicians to the Terhikki register, provided that they wish to continue as occupational physicians with expertise in radiation as defined in the new act. Valvira will make contact with all physicians who presently have this qualification and will provide instructions as to how they can provide Valvira with a notification of their desire to continue as a occupational physician with expertise in radiation.
The radiation protection training referred to in the new act can in future be provided by universities and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, A statement regarding the radiation protection training is to be requested from the Radiation Safety Centre. The purpose of this is to ensure that the training fulfils the requirements set for it. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health is currently the only institution providing this kind of radiation protection training.
In this regard, the new act implements the EU’s new directive on radiation safety. At the same time, the provisions and regulatory guidelines on the recognition of physicians have been stipulated in the act, as required by the Constitution.
Helena Korpinen, Senior Officer, tel. +358 29 5163317