ORPNET is a web-based network with an ultimate goal to promote optimization of the occupational radiation protection. It acts as a focal point for the occupational radiation protection providing comprehensive knowledge about worldwide, regional and national networks and systems in radiation protection of workers. In addition, the user can find here also information about the upcoming meetings, latest publications, joint projects, posters, and news related to this area. ORPNET spreads good practices, facilitates ALARA implementation, supports experience exchange, and aims to prevent avoiding any overlap of activities at the national and international level.
Exposure of workers to radiation is a pressing issue in workplace safety. It can occur as a result of various human activities, including work associated with the different stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, the use of radioactive sources and X ray machines in medicine, scientific research, agriculture and industry, and occupations that involve handling of materials containing enhanced concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides. Adequate radiation protection of workers is therefore essential for the safe and acceptable use of radiation, radioactive materials and nuclear energy. Various networks at the national and international level in the field of radiation protection has been formed with the aim to facilitate information about optimization of occupational radiation protection as well as about implementation of the ALARA principle.
The milestone in this field was the first International Conference on Occupational Radiation Protection, held in Geneva in 2002. Together 11 international organizations were involved in the organisation and produced a number of important findings and recommendations. These were considered in September 2002 by the IAEA General Conference, which requested to formulate and implement The IAEA/ILO International Action Plan on Occupational Exposure. As an outcome of this Plan, the Occupational Radiation Protection Networks website has been established in 2010 as a shared platform providing worldwide perspective for improving occupational radiation protection. In addition, ORPNET has demonstrated that an efficient cooperation between the radiation protection networks is achievable and it currently unifies available information from these networks on the protection of workers.
Development and progress of ORPNET is being discussed by the representatives of the particular networks at the International and Regional ALARA Networks Coordination Meetings, until now held in 2012 and 2014. The Second Coordination Meeting was organized as a side-event of the second International Conference on Occupational Radiation Protection.
The represented networks included two worldwide networks, ISOE (International System on Occupational Exposures) and ISEMIR (International System on occupational Exposure in Medicine, Industry and Research). The regional networks were represented by EAN (European ALARA Network), EAN NORM (The European ALARA Network for Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials), and EMAN (European Medical ALARA Network). Some regional networks, originally set up by the IAEA, have also participated, such as RECAN (Regional European and Central Asian ALARA Network), ARAN (Asian ALARA Network) and REPROLAM, Red de Optimización de Protección Radiológica Ocupacional en Latino América). The national platform for coordination of all 15 French regional RPO’s networks called CoRPAR was also present at the Second meeting, together with one observer, ESOREX (European Study on Occupational Radiation Exposure).