FAQs: Technical Documents
NIOSH uses technical documents called Site Profiles, Technical Basis Documents, and Technical Information Bulletins as guides and summaries of sites to assist our Health Physicists with conducting dose reconstructions. These documents supplement or fill-in the gaps of information where an energy employee's personal monitoring information is lacking or incomplete. Technical documents provide a way of compiling the large quantity of site data and of providing instructions for preparing dose reconstructions consistently.
To find answers to your questions about Technical Documents, click any one of the questions listed below to view its answer.
Technical Documents Questions
A Site Profile is a document that contains information about a facility's general activities and radiation protection practices. It may be used to assist NIOSH in completing dose reconstructions when there is a need to further understand or add to the personal exposure information for a case. A Site Profile includes the physical appearance and layout of the work site, the work processes used there, the types of materials used, potential sources of radiation, the exposure monitoring practices employed by the site over time, and other details important at that work site.
- Site Profiles are "living documents" and are approved for use in dose reconstruction, not finalized. If the Site Profile is changed or updated, previous non-compensable dose reconstructions will be reviewed to see if the change or update affects the outcome.
- Some cases will require that the entire Site Profile be approved before the dose reconstruction can start.
- NIOSH does not always require the use of a Site Profile document in order to complete dose reconstructions.
Site Profiles for larger Department of Energy (DOE) facilities are made of six sections called Technical Basis Documents (TBDs). An individual TBD contains information on a specific aspect of the work site. This aspect may be the physical layout of the work site, the work processes used, or other particular features of the work site and the work performed there
The six TBDs that make up a Site Profile are:
- Section 1: Introduction
- Section 2: Site Description
- Section 3: Occupational Medical Dosimetry
- Section 4: Occupational Environmental Dosimetry
- Section 5: Internal Dosimetry
- Section 6: External Dosimetry
- TBDs are "living documents" and are approved for use in dose reconstruction, not finalized. If the TBD is changed or updated, previous non-compensable dose reconstructions will be reviewed to see if the change or update affects the outcome.
- NIOSH does not always require the use of a TBD in order to complete dose reconstructions.
A Technical Information Bulletin (TIB) is a document that contains information on specific technical issues or procedures for estimating radiation exposure. It is used to add to or supplement TBDs and Site Profiles. TIBs may be used for a specific work site or multiple work sites.
TIBs may be written to provide:
- clarification on how a specific process can be used to complete a dose reconstruction.
- clarification on how the information in a TBD or Site Profile can be used to meet a specific need in the dose reconstruction process.
- specific technical information that supports or justifies the tables or information included in a TBD.
- TIBs are "living documents" and are approved for use in dose reconstruction, not finalized. If the TIB is changed or updated, previous non-compensable dose reconstructions will be reviewed to see if the change or update affects the outcome.
Not always. NIOSH will use personal exposure information, co-worker distribution data, any appropriate complex-wide TBD documents that have been or will be developed, along with any site information that is available.
A Site Profile may be necessary when the information that we receive from DOE for a case is not adequate enough to perform a dose reconstruction.
Information found in a Site Profile include, but is not limited to: the potential types of exposure, types of radioactive material present, and various details about the dosimetry program (for example, limits of detection, frequency of badge exchange, types of radiation exposure monitored (or not monitored), medical exposure information, bioassay monitoring, whole body counting, action levels, etc.).
For the most part, NIOSH acquires this information from records obtained from DOE. Almost all sites that are still in existence have extensive record holdings and some type of records database that allows researchers to find information pertinent to the Site Profile.
For sites that are no longer in existence, records can be found in various federal records holding facilities and repositories in Washington and around the country. Large stores of records have been found for some of these sites, while relatively little has been found for others.
No, for many facilities, especially in the case of Atomic Weapons Employers (AWEs), current operational functions have changed and are not representative of the operational functions that occurred during the covered time period for the facility. In addition, some of the facilities no longer exist and therefore, site visits are impossible.
For DOE sites, the approach has been to develop Site Profiles for facilities with the most cases. The Site Profiles that have been completed or are underway currently represent over half of all cases.
For AWE sites, a large number of cases tend to elevate the priority, but there are other considerations as well which include:
- Whether or not there is enough site information to write the Site Profile or whether or not more record searches are needed. If information is already in hand, the Site Profile may be prepared earlier.
- Whether or not another AWE Site, which does the same type of work, has an associated Site Profile. If a similar AWE Work Site exists, the Site Profile may be developed quicker.
Certain facilities only have a few cases associated with them and preparation of a Site Profile would require a considerable amount of work - more work than just completing them on a case by case basis. We will handle these limited number of cases in a number of ways such as, but not limited to: expanding another facility's Site Profile, developing a site-wide Site Profile that can be used for a number of sites, and/or by completing the dose reconstructions on a case by case basis when possible.
If a Site Profile has not been or is not being developed, does this mean that there is no information available for the site?
Not necessarily. The Site Profile documents were developed as guides and summaries of sites to assist the NIOSH Health Physicists with the dose reconstructions for many of the larger facilities and facilities where there was a large amount of site information available. It was a way of compiling the large quantity of data and of providing instructions for preparing dose reconstructions consistently.
The length of time it has taken to complete a Site Profile varies from site to site. It is dependent upon the quality and complexity of the data acquired.
Do all sections (TBDs) of a Site Profile have to be completed before a dose reconstruction can start?
Not always. If there is adequate information to perform a dose reconstruction, a dose reconstruction can be started before the Site Profile is approved.
It is also important to note that information from only certain sections (TBDs) of a Site Profile may be needed for the dose reconstruction. The sections are usually approved for use one at a time. This is beneficial to claimants because for some cases, this will allow the dose reconstruction to start for some cases before the entire Site Profile has been approved.
Some cases will still require that the entire Site Profile be completed before the dose reconstruction can start.
Once a Site Profile is completed for a facility, will the dose reconstructions for that facility immediately begin?
Not necessarily. Once NIOSH approves a Site Profile, a TBD, or a TIB, it is immediately available for use in completing dose reconstructions. The dose reconstruction for a particular case, however, cannot be started until a Health Physicist is available and the case has all available exposure information. If we are waiting on exposure information from DOE or other sources, the dose reconstruction will not be started until the information is received.
What happens if additional site information becomes available after a technical document has been completed?
Our technical documents are considered "living" documents. This means that they are subject to change if relevant information becomes available to warrant that we make a change to a technical document.
If the information has the potential to effect the outcome of previously completed dose reconstructions, a Program Evaluation Report (PER) is used to evaluate the information and determine whether or not dose reconstructions need to be reworked, additional reviews need to be conducted, corrective actions need to be taken, etc.
A PER may be necessary when relevant new information becomes available, when there is a policy change, or when other programmatic changes have the potential to effect previously completed dose reconstructions. As required by our dose reconstruction regulation, any substantial change in our program requires review and re-examination of completed cases to determine if the changes would alter the compensability of the case.
What happens if additional site information becomes available after a technical document has been completed and the Department of Labor (DOL) has already rendered a non-compensable decision on the claim?
As required by our dose reconstruction regulation, any substantial change in our program (which would include a change in a technical document) requires review and re-examination of completed cases to determine if the changes would alter the compensability of the case. Therefore, we will review those cases that were found by DOL to be non-compensable from that facility and see if any changes in the technical document warrant a re-estimation of the dose reconstructions.
Under The Act, one of the Advisory Board's functions is to advise the Secretary of HHS on the scientific validity and quality of NIOSH's dose reconstruction efforts, which includes the NIOSH Site Profiles (see Responsibilities under Subtitle B of EEOICPA (The Act)). The Advisory Board reviews and evaluates the approach taken in NIOSH Site Profiles (including Technical Basis Documents and supporting Technical Information Bulletins as they apply to the TBDs) to gauge their adequacy, completeness, and validity.
Who do I contact if I have comments on a Site Profile, Technical Basis Document, or Technical Information Bulletin?
NIOSH welcomes comments from interested stakeholders (organized labor groups, worker advocacy groups, claimants, etc.) on the technical documents used in dose reconstruction. Please include the name of the work site, the title of the document, or the Site Profile/Docket Number when submitting comments.
Comments should be submitted to the NIOSH Docket Officer. Comments can be sent electronically by e-mail to email@example.com or printed comments can be mailed or faxed to:
NIOSH Docket Office
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- Division of Compensation Analysis and Support (DCAS)
- (513) 533-6800
- firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
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