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Importance Of Radiation Safety Program at The Workplace

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All are exposed to radiation each day. Some sources of this radiation, such as microwaves and sunlight, are not harmful and a part of everybody’s life. Others, like alpha and beta particles, are dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Workers working in manufacturing, nuclear energy, food processing, and medical fields are constantly exposed to significant amounts of radiation protection program.

To protect them from the harmful effects of this radiation, their employers need to adopt a strong radiation safety program. But what exactly is radiation safety and how can it be adopted in the workplace? Let’s talk about this in more detail.

What is radiation safety?

Radiation safety or radiation protection is defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as “the protection of people from lethal effects of exposure to ionizing radiation, and the measures to achieve this.” While concentrated on maintaining the proper level of protection for humans, animals, and the environment, radiation protection also aims to leverage the advantages of ionizing radiation.

When utilized correctly, ionizing radiation brings several benefits for a wide variety of industries such as the medical, food processing, aerospace, and energy industries. Inadequate safety measures, however, could lead to acute health effects, like skin burns, radiation sickness, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Why’s radiation safety important in the workplace?

In work environments where workers are constantly exposed to different levels of ionizing radiation, proper safety measures are obligated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A critical guideline for workplace radiation safety is ALARA—which stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” The aim of ALARA is to keep every worker’s occupational radiation exposure as far below the federal and state regulatory dosage limits as possible. An carefully organized radiation safety coupled with a radiation protection program allow employers to set up a hazard-free zone where the proper prevention measures are enforced. This protects all workers from the dangerous effects of ionizing radiation.

Let’s evaluate how radiation safety can be improved in the workplace.

Wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

To deter workers from getting contaminated with radioactive material, they must all the time wear job-appropriate personal protective equipment. PPE safeguards against skin contamination from particulate radiation – both alpha and beta – and inhalation of harmful radioactive materials. To improve the safety at workplaces workers should regularly review the radioactive materials that the PPE is designed to protect against.

Build and implement a radiation protection program.

A radiation protection program is designed to safeguard workers from the effects of ionizing radiation. These programs are mainly managed by a radiation safety officer (RSO). Apart from creating and managing the radiation safety policies and procedures, the RSO is also responsible for all radiation safety training, conducting workplace safety inspections, and implementing a dosimetry program. These programs use dosimeters to measure radiation levels as an aggregate and will warn the RSO if certain thresholds are reached.

The Bottom Line

In environments where workers are exposed to varying doses of ionizing radiation, regular safety training and radiation safety programs are vital to creating a hazard-free work environment.

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