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International Safety Standards (IAEA)

The IAEA's International Safety Standards

While regulating safety is a national responsibility, international standards and harmonised approaches to safety promote consistency and help to provide assurance that nuclear and radiation related technologies are used safely. The IAEA is required by statute to promote international cooperation.

For over 50 years the IAEA has had a safety standards programme. More than 200 safety standards have been published which reflect an international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety for protecting people and the environment.

The IAEA Safety Standards are a cornerstone of the global nuclear safety regime. The standards provide a framework of fundamental principles, requirements and guidance to ensure safety. They are applicable, as relevant, throughout the entire lifetime of facilities and activities.

The principle users of the safety standards are regulatory bodies and organisations that design, manufacture and operate nuclear facilities.

The Safety Standards are not binding on states and are used in different ways in different countries.

Within the UK, the Safety Standards were used to benchmark the recent review of SAPs, Safety Assessment Principles for Nuclear Facilities and in the continuing review of the Technical Assessment Guides (TAGs). Also, the Safety Standards were used in deriving the WENRA Safety Reference Levels website.

Safety Standards framework

The hierarchy of the IAEA Safety Standards are as follows:

Safety Fundamentals

As the primary publication in the Safety Standards Series, Fundamental Safety Principles (unified in 2006) establishes the fundamental safety objective and principles of protection and safety. Principles cover thematic areas and facilities and activities.

Safety Requirements

An integrated and consistent set of Safety Requirements publications establish the requirements that must be met to ensure the protection of people and the environment. The requirements are governed by the objectives and principles of the Safety Fundamentals. If they are not met, measures must be taken to reach or restore the required level of safety.

They use the word 'shall'.

Safety Guides

Safety Guides provide recommendations and guidance on how to comply with the Safety Requirements, and reflect a consensus that it is necessary to take the measures recommended (or equivalent alternative measures). The Safety Guides present international good practices and increasingly they reflect best practices to help users striving to achieve high levels of safety.

They use the word 'should'.

A status list provides information on published safety standards and those under development.

Development process for the Safety Standards and how you can get involved

We coordinate comments on behalf of the UK on draft IAEA Safety standards. Through IAEA Safety Standards Committee members, we provide feedback to the IAEA following publication of the draft documents on our website, receipt and review of comments by stakeholders. We will also publicise the consultation documents through our external communication channels to relevant stakeholders.