As Low as Reasonably Achievable. The concept of ALARA is the main principle of radiation workers. It says: No matter how low the dosage is, if it doesn’t have any benefit, you should avoid it. And to ensure that this is being followed, any facility working with radiation should appoint a Radiation Safety Officer (RSO).
Responsibilities of an RSO
Being a Radiation Safety Officer is not as simple as knowing how to operate radiation equipment. The job also requires a detailed understanding of the science of radiation–its effect on the people exposed to it and how to secure these people from any possible danger.
The job scope of the RSO in an organisation varies among regions and industries but in general, the RSO should be able to identify ways to minimise radiation dose, train staff on safe work practises, and ensure the implementation of the radiation management plan of the company.
In case of equipment defects and malfunctions, the RSO would be the one to investigate and assess to avoid excess radiation dose in the company.
Creating a Radiation Management Plan
The RSO oversees and ensures site operations align with the company’s Radiation Management Plan (RMP). Basically, it is the guide of the whole organisation working with radiation sources.
As no two businesses are exactly the same, the RMP should be tailor-fit to the system of the organisation. It’s a document that needs regular review and should cover:
- Basic company details – site, employee workgroup, types of activity
- Current practises – work and hygiene
- Handling of radioactive materials – storage, transport, disposal, equipment decontamination
- Pre- and post-activity monitoring practises (example: groundwater sampling)
- Radiation monitoring equipment used – recording and reporting to regulators
Every radiation management plan is subject to approval by government authorities, depending on which region the company is located.
Requirements to be an RSO
To be a Radiation Safety Officer, you need to apply for a Radiation Safety Officer certificate, which usually lasts one to three years. In Queensland for example, your application for the certificate should include:
- evidence of your competency to perform the role of an RSO (e.g. a statement from your employer citing your knowledge and experience)
- certified copies of your formal qualifications or training certificate.
For diagnostic imaging, on the other hand, a certificate application is no longer needed if you’re a registered medical practitioner.
– Registered medical practitioners performing plain film diagnostic radiography of a person
– Registered dentist performing therapeutic laser procedures
– Registered dentist performing intra-oral or extra-oral diagnostic radiography
- Chiropractic radiography
– Registered chiropractor performing plain film diagnostic radiography of the spine, pelvis or extremities of a person
– Registered veterinary surgeon performing plain film diagnostic radiography of an animal.
Radiation Safety in Various Industries
Radiation is a part of various careers–medicine, nuclear, aviation. With the wide use of the energy, RSOs and radiation management plans are there to help protect people and the environment from the risks associated with radiation exposure.
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