Procedures

Risk Management and Approval Processes to Work with Radiation Sources - Procedures

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1.  Purpose and Objectives

These procedures have been developed to aid researchers at the University to manage risks associated with radiation sources.

2.  Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

ALARA - As Low As Reasonably Achievable

ICRP - International Commission on Radiological Protection

RPA - The OHS Division Radiation Protection Advisor

RSO - Faculty, Institute, School or Centre Radiation Safety Officer

RSPP - Radiation Safety and Protection Plan

3.  Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures document the current requirements for UQ researchers working with radiation sources to manage their safety and legislative compliance risks.

4.  Procedures Statement

It is a requirement of the Queensland Radiation Safety Act (1999) and Regulations (2010) that risks associated with working with radiation sources be managed appropriately. This involves the identification of hazards and the evaluation of risks and the subsequent treatment and control measures put in place for those risks. Risk management of working with radiation sources should be done in conjunction with the requirements set out in the local Radiation Safety Protection Plan.

5. Requirements for Working with Radiation Sources

Before a researcher can use radiation sources several requirements must be met:

  • The researcher must be affiliated with the University and have access to, and approval to use, certified facilities for the handling, use, storage and disposal of radiation sources;
  • The facility must hold and operate according to an approved and current RSPP;
  • This facility must be overseen by a certified Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) responsible for the safe and legal operation of the practice, including induction, monitoring and reporting as specified in the Act and Regulation;
  • The researcher/facility manager must hold a current Possession Licence for the isotope(s) used in the facility and may also require an Approval to Acquire these isotope(s);
  • The researcher may need to hold a current User License for the use, handling and disposal of unsealed or sealed radiation sources, and must have completed UQ radiation safety training and any local safety inductions pertaining to safe use of the certified facilities. The researcher must also seek written approval for any new unsealed radiation work, initially from the local RSO, but secondarily from UQ RPA before work can commence;
  • The individual worker may be required to submit a specific radiation risk assessment directly to the RPA;
  • If other hazards exist, a health and safety risk assessment (PPL 2.30.01) may also be required for clearance by the supervisor to proceed.
  • Ethics approval may be required if working with humans or animals

6. Risk Assessment

6.1 Requirement for individual risk assessment

Unless otherwise specified, all persons working with radiation sources are required to carry out an individual risk assessment.

A 'Radiation Risk Assessment Form' has been developed by the UQ RPA for your use, and is located in the forms tab of this PPL topic.

Those who do not require an individual risk assessment are as follows:

  • Persons who are licensed to carry out dental diagnostic radiography in accordance with an approved Radiation Safety and Protection Plan;
  • Persons who are licensed to carry out veterinary radiography in accordance with an approved Radiation Safety and Protection Plan;
  • Persons who are licensed to use soil moisture and density gauges in accordance with an approved Radiation Safety and Protection Plan;
  • Persons who are licensed to use bone mineral density apparatus in accordance with an approved Radiation Safety and Protection Plan;
  • Persons who are authorised to use approved self-contained irradiators in accordance with an approved Radiation Safety and Protection Plan; and
  • Persons who are authorised to use fully enclosed analytical or cabinet X-ray equipment in accordance with an approved Radiation Safety and Protection Plan.

NOTE: A risk assessment may be required for aspects of the above tasks that present hazards other than radiation exposure, and should be conducted using the UQ Risk Management Database.

6.2 Identification of hazards

The user must consider what radiation and other hazards are present in the task. The following hazards should be considered:

  • External exposure (whole-body or partial-body) to X-rays, gamma rays, beta particle radiation and neutron radiation;
  • Internal irradiation following ingestion, inhalation, skin absorption or wound entry of any type of radioactive substance;
  • A combination of internal and external irradiation;
  • Animal bites/scratches;
  • Biological exposures e.g. human blood/saliva (e.g. dentistry), aerosols;
  • Hazards associated with field work;
  • Mechanical hazards, electrical hazards etc.

6.3 Evaluation of risks

The relationship between exposure to radiation and the occurrence of particular health effects is reasonably well characterised and dose limits aimed at controlling these effects have been set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).

These limits have been given legislative effect in all Australian jurisdictions. In addition to set dose limits, both the ICRP and the state legislation instructs users to ensure that all doses are kept as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). This process is called optimisation.

The researcher is required to wear personal dosemeters at all times when working with the source and should record any unusual levels of exposure and seek further advice if the measured level exceeds allowable limits e.g. acceptable exposure limits for pregnant workers is significantly lower.

The risks associated with the use of radiation in research and teaching will be greatly influenced by the skills, training, and experience of the user and the standard of the associated facilities and equipment. Legislation requires compliance certification for certain types of facilities and equipment prior to use.

The following factors need to be considered:

  • Whether the practice is routine, well-established or newly-developed;
  • The type of radiation to be used (alpha, beta, gamma, X-ray, neutron);
  • Selection of appropriate isotopes and their maximum radioactive activity when being used 'unsealed';
  • The form of the isotope, whether solid, liquid, gaseous, and what engineering or isolation controls are in place;
  • Source work;
  • The nature of the equipment in which a sealed source is to be used;
  • Possible exposure to the direct or attenuated beam in X-ray analysis work;
  • Any other hazards associated with the task e.g. animal, human, microbiological, chemical etc.

6.4 Treatment of risks

The Radiation Safety and Protection Plans required for each facility will clearly stipulate appropriate risk treatments for the practice. Regular review of the RSPP is stipulated in the Regulations and will ensure that the RSPP is a useful risk management document for the work done in the facility.

Radiation risks may be controlled by a combination of engineered and procedural measures, including shielding, local exhaust and limiting exposure time, often supplemented by the use of personal protective equipment. For most practices the measures to be selected will be very largely generic to the practice category and individual users will not need to depart from them.

Other equipment such as monitors and samplers, including scintillation counters, can be used to identify contaminations and releases.

The assessment forms identify the most significant risks for the category of work and the questions are designed to allow researchers to indicate how they will control the risks that are relevant to the type of project concerned.

6.5 Review and monitoring of risks

The duties of RSOs include responsibilities for continuing oversight and review of radiation safety in their organizational unit as well as assisting with the review of the RSPP.

The RSO assists individual users in choosing appropriate control measures and monitors their compliance with them. The duties of the RSO with regard to surveillance and review are set out in Section 37 of the Radiation Safety Act 1999.

7. Contacts for Further Information

Contact your local Radiation Safety Officer

OHS Division Radiation Protection Advisor ohs@uq.edu.au

Custodians
Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael

Forms

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Ionizing Radiation in Research Project Assessment - Form

Ionizing Radiation in Research Project Assessment - Form

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Description: 

Unless otherwise specified, all persons working with radiation sources are required to carry out an individual risk assessment. The attached form has been developed by the UQ Radiation Protection Advisor to specifically assess the risks related to your work involving ionising radiation. Please fill in the form and return a copy to OHS@uq.edu.au

Custodians
Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael
Custodians
Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael
Custodians
Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael