Nuclear Fuel Plant Pitesti (FCN) is a Societatea Nationala NuclearElectrica SA (SNN-SA) subsidiary, specialised in manufacturing the nuclear fuel bundles CANDU-6 type for CANDU nuclear power plant. The only nuclear material in this facility is natural uranium presented in bulk and itemised form.
Uranium, in different forms, and radioactive wastes from the plant are handled, processed, treated and stored throughout the entire facility. The quantity of uranium presented in the plant in different forms, the activities with zircaloy, beryllium and other hazardous substances, wastes, high temperatures, or explosive materials, leads to a special organisation of nuclear safety and protective equipment.
The safety programme is structured on operational safety, industrial safety, radiological safety, labour safety, and informational safety. Emergency preparedness and response, physical protection and the security of the plant and the transportation of radioactive material contribute to the development of these aspects, and require different types of personal protective equipment (PPE), uniforms and special attire.
The issuing of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safety guides for fuel cycle facilities specialised in uranium fuel fabrication facility (UFFF) signifies a new approach and improvement of nuclear safety and the nuclear safety culture, including wearing PPE.
The FCN personnel work in different conditions and with different types of dangerous substances. This is the reason why the PPE is an important requirement. This article aims to present the plant’s system of provision regarding PPE for its employees. General provisions and definitions
1. PPE is the necessary equipment for each participant in the work process. PPE also represents the protection means for employees from the deleterious risk factors which exist or may appear.
2. The uniform is the working equipment attributed to certain categories of employees whose activities require special attire, established by law or from a specific character of an activity. The staff uniforms are property of FCN and the employees can use them only during their employment contract.
3. The normal use period is the length of time that the personnel use the PPE in normal use conditions.
4. The personal identification, the data of the professional risk factors, registration documents for risk factors are all associated with work tasks which determine the suitability of the employee for the work.
5. The lifetime of the equipment is determined by each team leader, depending on the actual conditions of work and the work done by each employee, without exceeding the duration of the warranty given by the manufacturer. It follows the principle that all employees will be provided with PPE suitable for the task they perform, with the sole purpose of protecting them from the risks they face.
6. The duration of wearing PPE is determined by: • The seriousness of the risk • The exposure frequency • The features of the workstation and workplaces • The performance of the equipment
In the process of elimination/reduction of the dangers of injury and/or professional illness, the PPE represents a barrier of protection only if:
• It is appropriate for the risks associated with the tasks carried out in a particular work environment, with certain equipment
• It can guarantee the physical protective function The replacement of damaged protection equipment is made operativally, unconditionally, in the following situations:
• Loss of quality, due to the fact that the means of protection fulfils the role, protecting the wearer, but, at the same time, it was destroyed as a result of the action of a risk factor
• In case of radioactive contamination of equipment, the use would cause an unjustified exposure to radiation for the wearer
• Loss of protection quality arising from periodical checks
• Loss of quality due to the premature wear or inappropriate maintenance of the equipment
• Loss of quality due to direct fault of staff, either by the failure of the wearer to respect the instructions regarding use, or with malicious purposes. In this case, the replacement is made with the recovery of the value of the equipment from the employee at fault
Romanian laws for safety and health endowment pay special attention to workers with PPE. The main law is the Law of Occupational Health and Safety no 319/14.07.2006 and its norms for application.
The internal list of PPE, specific to each firm or company, and the varieties of PPE selected for workers is complete only after the risk assessment regarding the minimum health and safety for workers is analysed.
The list is in accordance with Government Decision no 1048/09.08.2006, the minimum safety and health requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment at work.
The list of Romanian standards which adopted harmonised European Union Standards relating to PPE was approved by the Ministry of Labor and Family Social Protection and Elderly Persons (MMFPSPV) in the Order no 594 / 02.04.2013.
The company can only purchase equipment with security certificates in terms of safety and health at work, presenting the CE only from MMFPSPV licensed companies, and only accompanied by a quality certificate and declaration of conformity, or instructions regarding detoxification, cleaning and maintenance.
Jobs/workstations where the possibility of a risk of fire and/or explosion is considered a serious and imminent threat, evaluated and nominated as such, are prohibited from buying and wearing PPE manufactured from synthetics.
Similarly, workers are prohibited to wear synthetic underwear –they must only wear 100 percent cotton underwear.
Providing the PPE
Providing workers with PPE intended to protect them against one or more risks that could endanger their health and safety in the workplace, or to prevent accidents and occupational diseases is mandatory for the employer.
Employers are required to provide workers free PPE when risks can not be avoided or sufficiently limited by technical means of collective protection or by measures, methods or procedures of work organisation.
The establishment of individual protection (types and varieties) for employees’ PPE is based on cumulative risk analysis on the current employee that practises a certain profession or meets a particular function.
Evaluation of risks at FCN which determine the PPE needed by employees: • Radiological risks – exposure to ionising radiation • Exposure to external doses • Exposure to internal contamination • Industrial risks • Exposure to beryllium (solid particles-aerosols) • Zircaloy components for self-ignition • Chemical pollutants (vapours, dust, mist) • Health hazards (noise, vibrations) • Explosions and fire
With regard to the condition of the PPE, the employer is obliged to provide conditions for carrying out statutory checks, storage, cleaning, detoxification and repair of individual protection equipment according to the manufacturer.
The employer is obliged to replace PPE when it is found that it does not meet the terms of the protective qualities for whatever reason.
The types of PPE should be designated by the employer as a result of exchanging information and consultation with unions/workers’ representatives on each job/workstation, based on the given task.
All workers in a company should be provided with PPE and should be given it according to the list prepared by the employer, valid for the unit.
Workers are required to check their entire equipment before work and request the replacement of anything that is damaged. Workers are required to correctly use the supplied PPE only during work and to return it after use, or put it in the place intended for storage, according to the art.
Provision of PPE at SNN-SA
The Collective Labor Agreement of SNN-SA has a special section, ‘Regulation for endowment with personal protective equipment, uniforms, individual working equipment, special attire’, (Regulation). The equipment referred to in this Regulation should be granted to employees for the entire duration of their individual labour contracts with the SNN-SA or, if occasional, at the execution of work tasks for which the company pays salary rights and control staff, to visitors or to a staff member engaged in practise, or a training session.
Equipment referred to in this Regulation which has been destroyed, degraded or contaminated as a result of accidents or other causes not attributable to employees before the expiry of normal use should be replaced by other suitable equipment with costs supported by the company.
If the PPE is destroyed in the work process by the employee, or if it used for other purposes or conditions from those set out in the instructions, the employee should be penalised according to the internal regulation of SNN-SA.
The protective personal equipment endowment of occasional work staff remunerated by SNN-SA is provided by a manager during these activities.
Provision of PPE at FCN-Pitesti
The identification of the necessary types and varieties of PPE is based on the identified and documented risk assessment of injury/illness in accordance with professional and legal provisions established at FCN.
The identification of risks for accidents and professional illnesses is ensured for FCN by following a special procedure. In order to determine the appropriate types of equipment, the units at FCN are considered an important risk factor, because it is possible to identify different professional injuries/illnesses from unit to unit.
The analysis is also made by considering the Order no 225/21.07.1995 ‘Normative framework for the granting and use of personal protective equipment’, issued by MMFPSPV, and the Order 421/22.12.2004, ‘Norms for granting and use of personal protective equipment to ionizing radiation’, issued by the National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN).
The PPE given to the staff is the property of FCN and it is given to its own employees only for use during their work contract for specific tasks. This is also the case for the staff control, staff in internships and visitors during the activity in FCN units.
The PPE and uniforms needed annually should be included in Safety and Health Program in Work, approved by the Committee of Safety and Health in Labor (CSSM) at SNN-SA. The necessary funds should be included in the budget of this committee. The size of the funds will have to consider the provisions of the Collective Labor Agreement (CCM) to FCN and the effectual legal provisions.
Contracts with suppliers include conditions imposed for each type of PPE, in order to match both quality criteria and duration of use, standardised in normal conditions. At the same time, the contract imposes the obligation to deliver use instructions and quality certificates.
The manangement of FCN ensures the equipment storage in good quality conditions and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
The manangement of FCN is required to provide staff training about the use of PPE and features provided. Changes in working conditions lead to the provision of new PPE required under a new situation, and it’s important to train visitors and contractors regarding its correct use.
The manangement of FCN must ensure the appropriate conditions exist for cleansing and detoxification of PPE, depending on its type, and according to the use conditions in product standards, or the instructions given by the suppliers.
At FCN the cleansing and detoxification system is devised by the Service of Safety and Health in Labor and Emergency Situations, a department which has to plan the replacement of equipment if necessary.
The table given below shows the relationship between the risks, assortment and type of protection. The table is an extract from the Nomenclature of facilities regarding PPE, annex to Regulation from the Collective Labor Agreement.
PPE for protection against ionising radiation for employees, external workers and visitors can also include: • Working clothes like overall and coats • Coats and aprons • Rubber gloves, cotton gloves, surgical gloves • Eyeglasses with diopters 0 • Special shoes (toe-boots) • Bonnet • Masks MSA Comfo II, Comfo Classic, semi-masks FFP3, anti-gases • Overshoes for persons involved in occasional activities in controlled area, and for visitors
Published: 22nd Jul 2014 in Health and Safety International