1. Questions having general application
Q I have a BSc/MSc in radiation protection (or in environmental science with a radiological module). Can I become an RPA automatically?
A No, you must still demonstrate to an Assessing Body, such as RPA 2000, that you satisfy the criteria set by HSE. However your degree will be sufficient evidence for many of the required knowledge based topics.
Q Do I need a degree to become an RPA?
A No, but a science degree may materially help to demonstrate knowledge in many GA or BU topics.
Q Where are the best courses to train as an RPA?
A Many courses are suitable. However ask yourself if the syllabus of a particular course meets the majority of the GA and BU topics in the required knowledge base.
Q Can I use the same evidence in different categories?
A Yes, but be careful to make clear in your contextual notes how the subsequent use of the same evidence is relevant to that new topic. In the case of renewal of certificates if you use the same evidence for more than one topic be careful to show how different parts of that evidence are valid points for those different topics, i.e. don’t claim double points for the same detail.
Q Should I expect my portfolio to be returned if I don’t follow the guidance?
A Yes. Assessors are volunteers giving their time freely. They are not expected to interpret your evidence. You should clearly explain, primarily through contextual notes, how a piece of evidence satisfies a particular topic. This is just as true for renewals as for initial applications. All the relevant guidance can be found on the RPA 2000 website.
Q I only have experience working with x-rays. Can I become an RPA?
A Yes, the certification process is where you demonstrate that you can satisfy the ‘core competencies’ required by the BSS. Obviously your evidence will draw heavily on your experience and knowledge of working with X-rays, but with clear explanation (the contextual notes) you will be able to demonstrate you meet the core competency. However some DU topics do require subject specific evidence.
For example DU topic 4 requires:
A practical understanding of: (i) the measurement of radiation dose and dose rate; and (ii) the measurement and assessment of radioactive contamination; and the ability to interpret radiation and contamination measurements in order to identify necessary control procedures.
You will need to consider carefully, in the light of limited monitoring experience, how you demonstrate DU of this topic. Finally it is up to the employer to decide if your experience is suitable for his needs!
Q Is it OK to include commercially sensitive or security related evidence?
A Some Assessors have been OCNS vetted and are able to examine any such evidence. Others have signed the OSA. All Assessors will examine portfolios within their sector and do not discuss commercially sensitive information. However if this is a concern then blank out any names you do not wish to disclose.
Q How long will my application take?
A For initial applications, RPA 2000 aims to process applications for certification within three months of receipt, but in any case within six months, unless further information is required from the candidate. Should such further information be required, the timescale for completion of the assessment will be extended by the number of days taken to receive this information. For renewal of certificates, RPA 2000 aims to process applications within three months of receipt of the application. Provided the application is received more than three months prior to expiry of the current Certificate, RPA 2000 is able to extend the validity of the current Certificate by up to six months in special circumstances.
Q What happens to my portfolio?
A Unless you specifically ask for its return a portfolio is kept for 11 years, in accordance with the requirements of HSE.
Q Do IRMER, Transport or EA sponsored lectures qualify as relevant points?
A Yes, if you can demonstrate that they fall into any of the learning categories (table 1) of the renewal scheme.
Q I work abroad and therefore do not apply IRR17 to my work. Can I apply for an initial certificate of competence or renew an existing certificate?
A The lack of current work with IRR17 shouldn’t be a problem if you approach your application with IRR17 in mind. When you present evidence of say advising an employer on IRR17 (category 2.1) then you should also provide a clear contextual statement explaining how your advice derives from the requirements of IRR17, quoting specific regulations or paragraphs of the Guidance. Normally evidence itself usually demonstrates this link but in your case you need to explain the connection.
2. Questions relating to Initial Applications for certification
Q How can I demonstrate competence, particularly for DU topics, before gaining a Certificate of Competence?
A The simplest approach is to perform relevant work and write the report or advice as if you were certified and get your employer or RPA colleague to make a statement that it is your work. This is an acceptable form of evidence.
Q How much of my portfolio can be simulation?
A It is unlikely that certification would be awarded if more than 50% of the competencies are demonstrated by evidence from simulation. There should not be a problem awarding certification if a ‘good portfolio’ includes no more than 10% of the competencies that are demonstrated by evidence from simulation. For more detail see section 8 of: http://www.rpa2000.org.uk/images/stories/documents/rpa_scheme/DocRPA2PortfolioInstructions28Mar07APH.doc
Q Should all evidence relate to IRR17?
A Not necessarily, as awareness of general radiation protection legislation and practical protection requirements is necessary to meet the BSS core competencies, but as a rule of thumb at least 80% should have a demonstrable link to IRR17.
Q How big should my portfolio be?
A Assessors hate voluminous portfolios where they have to sift through dozens of plastic wallets stuffed with reports where your contribution is a paragraph or two. Be succinct and clear and the Assessor will be less inclined to return the portfolio to you. A good portfolio should not exceed 5 cm thickness.
3. Questions relating the Renewal of a Certificate of Competence
Q I know I need > 25 points in Category 1 and a maximum of 75 points in Category 2. How many should I submit?
A A good ‘target’ would be to submit between 120 and 150 points, with an approximate 1:2 split between Categories 1and 2.
Q Can I use my existing CPD points from the SRP scheme?
A Only those that are relevant to IRR17 and the role of the RPA.
Q What happens if I am away from work for a prolonged time due to maternity leave or illness?
A 5.11.7. Where a person participating in any 5-year RPA 2000 renewal of certification scheme (RCS) is absent from work for longer than 6 months but not longer than 30 months, and feels unable to complete their RCS application within the original timescale, it is open to that person to seek to extend their period of participation in that RCS. By written application to and acceptance by RPA 2000, that person may extend their original period of participation in the RCS by 3 months for each completed period of 3 months for which they had been absent from work, up to a maximum extension of 30 months. RPA 2000 would extend the validity of their current certificate to allow them to continue to operate during the full period of this extension. All other conditions of an RCS application would remain unchanged, for example the consequences of failing to meet timescales as described in Guidance Documents GD2 and GD3.
Q RCS points can be claimed for attending meetings, can they also be claimed for cascade training back at work?
A Yes, but not to the same value. For example if 8 points (1 per hour) are claimed for novel learning then you can’t claim the same 8 points for delivering that content as part of cascade training (2.8). But it is reasonable to claim for ‘established content’.
Q How much time should be spent working on RPA duties to enable renewal of my certificate of competence?
A Perhaps this can be answered by considering the question “how many points can I claim for routine RPA work”. Routine work as an RPA can only be claimed to a maximum of 15 hours per week when averaged over a year. So if you wish to claim an average of 15 hours per week then you should show how this was achieved; e.g. your job description (or a summary), time sheets or a witnessed statement by your employer or line manager.