United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Question 386: In evaluating whether to require the use of

respirators to limit intakes, it is found that wearing a

respirator will likely increase the total effective dose

equivalent (TEDE). However, the workers request that they

be allowed to wear respirators to limit intakes, despite

the results of the evaluation. With regard to NRC

regulation, what discretion may the licensee exercise in

this circumstance?

Answer: 10 CFR 20.1702 provides for the use of

respirators consistent with maintaining the TEDE as low as

is reasonably achievable. Assuming that the licensee has

provided appropriate training to the workers in question,

the licensee may exercise discretion on a case-by-case

basis in determining whether to grant approval to a

worker's request for using a respirator when the TEDE-ALARA

determination dictates that respiratory protection not be

used. The NRC staff realizes that the significant "culture

shift" / "paradigm shift" (i.e., changing from the

traditional operational philosophy of not allowing any

worker intakes to one of allowing some intakes when this is

consistent with the goal of maintaining the TEDE ALARA) may

not take place quickly. Furthermore, acceptance of this

change will certainly be difficult for some individuals.

Therefore, the NRC staff realizes that during this

transition period licensees will need reasonable

flexibility to allow for individual needs and problems in

making this shift. However, the staff expects that over

time the transition to ALARA-TEDE will be made and this

worker acceptance problem will become an exceptional

occurrence. In the meantime, when assigning a respirator

to the requesting worker, the licensee should make every

reasonable effort to provide the worker with a respirator

that minimizes the loss of worker efficiency. Note: The

NRC staff is aware of existing state OSHA regulations that

require an employer to provide a worker with a respirator

upon request; compliance with such state regulations is

acceptable to the NRC staff. See the answer to the

related Question 387. (Reference: 10 CFR 20.1702, 10 CFR


Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012