The control of occupational radiation exposure through the provision of Dosimetry services is an integral part of one of the three main principles on which protection against ionizing radiation is based – the principle of optimization of radiological protection. The premise of optimization is that all reasonable efforts are made to reduce doses due to individuals taking into account social and economic factors.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Basic Safety Standards require the optimization principle to be applied in the control of occupational exposure in the workplace by radiation users. The efforts of the users in setting up and implementing a system of radiological protection can be achieved if routine monitoring is carried out. A dosimetry laboratory provides the service of measurement of radiation doses absorbed by radiation users, and helps them to ensure that occupational doses are kept as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). As such, it is important to ensure that the measurement results produced by the laboratory are accurate and reliable.
The Botswana National Dosimetry Laboratory (NDL) provides personnel monitoring service to monitor external exposure of radiation workers to ionizing radiation during the course of their work and environmental monitoring service to monitor ambient radiation levels. The primary reason for conducting monitoring is to prevent some health risks associated with radiation exposure by ensuring that occupational doses do not exceed recommended dose limits.
The accreditation journey of the NDL started in the year 2011 with the establishment and implementation of a quality management system based on the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025 Standard. Application for the initial accreditation was made with Southern African Development Community Accreditation Service (SADCAS) in July 2012. After a successful initial assessment in October 2012, accreditation was granted in January 2013 for a period of five years up to January 2018. Throughout the five years, the laboratory maintained the accreditation status. Having realized the full benefits of accreditation, the laboratory management took a decision to apply for re-accreditation in April 2017. SADCAS conducted a full re-assessment in October 2017 and subsequently granted the NDL re-accreditation in February 2018 for another five years.
Some of the accreditation benefits realized by the Botswana NDL include the following:
Further, Botswana was chosen as the host for a regional training course on quality management system for dosimetry services to allow IAEA Member States from the region to appreciate and tap into the accreditation experience of the NDL. These invitations made to Botswana are a vote of confidence in the country and in the quality of its radiation monitoring system provided by NDL.