Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA)
Radiation is present around us in our environment in various forms. On one end of the electromagnetic spectrum, we have modern day appliances and devices such as microwave ovens and smartphones which are emitting non-ionising radiation.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have ionising radiation such as X-Ray and cosmic radiation.
Radiation is also featured at times in pop culture. The comic book fans amongst us would be well-aware that “superheroes” such as the Fantastic Four and the Hulk obtained their powers through radiation.
Scientifically, radiation is defined as an energy or particles from a source that travels through mediums or space and able to penetrate through mediums. In our context, it is referred to as “ionising radiation”, which means as radiation passes through matter causing it to become electrically charged and ionised in living tissues, the electrical ions produced by the radiation can affect normal biological process. Prolonged exposure to ionising radiation if not controlled, can cause harmful effects to humans.
At the same time, it has also long been recognised that high exposure to radiation can cause harmful effect and damage to human tissues.
History itself has shown us the devastating effects of radiation such as the Goiania, Brazil and SamutPrakan, Thailand incidents which had catastrophic human consequences.
It is therefore important for us to understand our daily exposure to radiation from both natural and man-made sources.
Globally, radiation technology plays a role in supporting sustainable development in countries that view it from the perspective where the benefit it reaps outweighs its risk.
It is being applied across multiple industrial sectors such as the oil and gas sectors, scientific research, food, agriculture and medicine, amongst others.
In the field of medicine, for instance, radiation technology is used as a versatile tool in diagnostic imaging, nuclear science, radiotherapy, the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and emerging diseases and has saved many human lives. Meanwhile, in the security sector, imaging technology makes use of ionising radiation for the screening of cross border movement of goods and vehicles and is an essential tool for combating terrorism and smuggling of weapons, cigarettes and alcohol.
In conclusion, most people are exposed to an acceptable amount of radiation and this has not shown to cause any harm to humans.
Therefore, it is imperative to recognise the need to regulate and control exposure to radiation as a necessity to ensure public safety and workers safety against the consequences of overexposure to radiation. In October 2018, Brunei Darussalam passed the Safety, Health and Environment National Authority Order, 2018 under which the Safety, Health and Environment National Authority or SHENA was established.
Shortly after that in December 2018, the Radiation Protection Order, 2018 (S 67/2018) was passed into law with SHENA being mandated and given powers as the authority responsible to issue licences for any radiation activity undertaken in Brunei Darussalam, to conduct inspections as well as investigations and provide relevant advice and guidance on matters relating to ionising radiation in accordance with international commitments and standards.
Any individual or company caught breaching the law is liable on conviction to a fine between the range of BND1,000,000 and BND10,000,000 and imprisonment for a term between one year and five years.
As the authority, SHENA encourages all entities who conduct any radiation activity in Brunei Darussalam to comply with the Radiation Protection Order, 2018 and technical requirements to ensure safety to public and the environment.
SHENA welcomes any enquiries, concerns or complaints on radiation related matters and can be contacted at [email protected]
Further information concerning the work of SHENA in regulating radiation activities in Brunei Darussalam can be found at the SHENA official website via http://www.shena.gov.bn.
(The Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA) is a statutory body that regulates all matters pertaining to workplace safety, health and environment as well as radiation in Brunei Darussalam.)