Work Safety Controls for Radiation Exposure

Radiation can be really dangerous to humans if they are exposed in high dosages. But radiation is not evident through the human’s five senses. Also, its adverse effects are also not immediately noticed. There is no way a person can know that he or she is being exposed to dangerous dosages of radiation without any third party instrument. This is where safety controls come in.

Safety controls are precautions that companies are mandated to take in order to make the working environment a safer place for their workers, patients and the public. There are two types of radiation safety controls: the engineered ones and the administrative controls.

As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States of America government puts it, “the first and best strategy is to control the hazard at its source.” Engineered controls are based on this principle unlike the administrative controls which focus on the workers or people who are exposed to potential harm. The work itself and its environment are designed to be less harmful than it’s naturally to be.

Engineering controls include alarms, interlocks, shielding, material containment and warning signals. Engineering controls such as interlocks and shielding are used for containment of the radiation in a cabinet or vault. Lead or high density concrete is most commonly used as shielding materials. The interlocks, on the other hand, are used to immediately cut the power source of the equipment that is generating the radiation, once the door if accidentally opened during radiation production. Warning red lights are also used to inform other workers and people that there is ongoing radiation production, much like in x-ray rooms. There are also sensors that detect a certain amount of radiation and warning alarms that will go off if the amount of radiation is higher than the tolerable amount.

In cases where portable radiography is needed to be performed, alarms or warning lights are not advised to be used. Ropes and signs are more practical to block the public from entering a radiation area. But at times, battery operated flashing lights will make do to warn the public. Materials found in the area can be makeshift or temporary shielding devices. Sheets of aluminum or steel can be enough to protect the public from radiation. It all really depends on the knowledge of the radiographer. The radiographer must know the radiation absorption values of varying materials. It is his responsibility to choose the right kind of materials to prevent anyone from being harmed by the radiation.

The administrative controls focus more on the workers. These include procedures, postings, dosimetry and training of the employees. The administrative controls are only supplements to the engineered controls. The companies are mandated by law to provide signs and posters that bear the radiation symbol in areas where radiation equipment are located. There must also be notices that explain the dangers and effects of radiation that can easily be understood by the public. It is very important for the public to be informed about not only the benefits of radiation, but the cons as well.