The Radiation Protection Act (StrlSchG) issued on 27 June 2017 provides for a comprehensive restructuring of the legal framework on the protection against the harmful effects of ionising radiation and establishes a formal legal basis for radiation protection. The act implements Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom of 5 December 2013 (basic safety standards directive), which updated radiation protection legislation in the light of the latest scientific evidence and considerably extended the scope of radiation protection law.

The StrlSchG combines requirements set out in the Radiological Protection Ordinance, the X-ray Ordinance and the Precautionary Radiation Protection Act. The emergency management provisions of the Radiation Protection Act entered into force on 1 October 2017. Other changes will be regulated in new legislative ordinances, most of which will be drawn up by the end of 2018, which will outline the legal provisions in further detail. Aside from general provisions, the act is divided into four main parts: "radiation protection in planned exposure situations", "radiation protection in emergency exposure situations", "radiation protection in existing exposure situations" and "exposure overlapping provisions".

The amended act includes provisions on:

  • the naturally occurring, radioactive noble gas radon in dwellings and at the workplace
  • radioactive relics
  • radioactivity in construction products
  • the introduction of an information and reporting system for incidents in the medical area
  • the admissibility of procedures using radioactive substances or ionising radiation for early diagnosis on asymptomatic individuals
  • the protection of spacecraft crew
  • the management of radiological emergencies.

Significant reforms in the field of emergency preparedness concern the emergency response plans to be coordinated between the federal government and the Länder (sections 97- 101 StrlSchG), the establishment of a federal radiological situation centre (sections 106 - 107) which in the case of surpraregional emergencies will issue a radiological situation report to be used for the national situation report and assessment of the situation (section 108). In the case of regional emergencies, the federal state (Land) in which the emergency has occurred is responsible for drawing up the radiological situation report. By using a dovetail approach, the StrlSchG integrates the federal government’s legal and technical provisions on radiological emergency preparedness into the complex federal system of civil protection (e.g. in sections 92 - 96, 99, 109 - 111).

As part of the legislative reform of the StrlSchG, the Precautionary Radiological Protection Act was repealed with effect from 1 October 2017.