James: Hi, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar on Radiation Safety the Nuts and Bolts of an Effective Program. My name is James, I'm the webinar event coordinator here at Triumvirate Environmental and I'll be your moderator for today's event.
Before we get started I'd like to give you a brief overview on what this webinar is going to entail as we run through just a few housekeeping items we'll go on to that next slide there.
Please not that everyone's microphones will be turned off for the entirety of the webinar. But if you do have a question or a technical issue comes up you can use the questions pane to communicate. There are some interactive polls embedded through the webinar so please be sure to participate in those as they pop up on your screen. We'll be keeping you on your toes today.
Following the presentation there will be an open question and answer period. You can ask questions anytime throughout the webinar by typing them into the questions box. And again that's located on the right hand side of your screen.
Finally, I will be announcing an exclusive offer at the end of the webinar to help assess your own radiation safety program and identify any gaps or risks that need to be addressed. So, please stick around for advance as we get to the Q&A and talk about the deliverables at the end.
I'm pleased to introduce our speaker today, Tony Gemmellaro. Tony is an EHS Manager at Triumvirate with over 25 years of experience in the Bio tech and Bio pharmaceutical industry, also public sector healthcare and academic environments. Tony served as the radiation safety officer for several biotech and biopharma companies and submitted several applications for low level radiation, a gamma e-radiator and amendments for radiation safety programs.
Tony had the Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Boston University and a Masters in Biological Sciences from the University of Massachusetts. And with that, I'll turn things over to Tony. Hey, Tony.
Tony: Hey, James. Thank you very much for the introduction. Terrific. Welcome everyone for the webinar on Radiation Safety. Give you kind of a flavor for what's involved and share some of my experience for the past 20-25 years, as well. And so, the first thing that I want to share with and we'll get into some more details but something that you may know already if you're just entering the field, back in the 1920's radiation wasn't very well known and so people were exposed to certain hazards.
In 1920 so there were women who were working in factories with radium, making radium dial watches to make them glow in the dark. I think we've all seen this at some point in time or maybe your grandparents have one or you have one in the house.
But the tragic example is that many of these women who work in this class they would put the tip of their brushes to tongues not knowing the hazard to make a finer point so that they could paint the dials. These workers ingested small amounts of radium which was alpha and gamma emitters, which I'll get into a little bit more detail. And, so many of these women die from anemia, have a shortage of red blood cells and leading to bone cancer.
And this was actually well documented, it wasn't known occupational hazard back in the day and suddenly a concern. From a personal experience with radium bio clocks I was actually was doing an alternation check after someone did perform an alternation labelling free iodine for an [00:03:27].
After checking the individual thyroid we found out that I had a hot spot, it was positive. And so what happened, what did you do with your research? What incident may have occurred? And so, by coincidence I was sitting at someone's desk that had a clock with a radium dial on it. And so it wasn't the exposure from the alternation but it was the exposure from the radium dial clock.
So, [00:03:57] we actually removed that from our area and used that as an example. So these are just some of the things for you to think about when it comes to working with radiation. There are a lot more procedures in place and protection in place, regulations in place and best practices. So that's why I want to emphasize throughout this webinar a key message. And really is, safety first for people who are working and make sure they are protected. So their compliance and regulations is very important and is a priority. And we want to make sure that when working with radioactive materials we'll take it very seriously. It's something that we have alright to work with. We're given that right to regulatory agencies. We want to prevent contamination and spread hazardous materials.
So, I would share throughout the webinar some additional examples and maybe at the end there might be enough to ask more detailed questions.
So, most of you here have seen the left, the kind of left there's a wide variety of people from different walks of life and different industries, believe we cover the people from bio tech industry, health care and various universities.
So, obviously in bio tech, the new drug development, new research. It might involve [00:05:14] with radioactive materials, obviously patient care, people who are using or involved with CT scans, lasers, medical devices of some kind. And universities also have research facilities where they work with some radioactive materials. So there are some pretty robust, safety programs of these locations as well.
But, I think the key methods here when it comes to radiation safety in these areas, in these industries is really, these organizations are heavily regulated. In Massachusetts where I'm from it's the mass department of public health radiation control program. We'll give you in other states in the middle of California or Rhodes Islands you have specific regulations that might relate to you as well. So you want to be aware of that. And, maybe one of these institutions also can have a number of different license and permits that required a bio check, could have just a general low level of radiation license. Or, you could be using a gamma, a radiator which you need a separate license and we'll talk about that in detail.
For health care in universities may have lasers and CT scans all of which. In Massachusetts after they registered with the state, I believe in some states you do not have to register some of these devices but again you want to make to verify that to make sure that you are in compliance.
And of course with all of these institutions annual training is required, record keeping is required and obviously a formal posting and notice to employees is all part of that program.
So, what you will learn here is obviously some additional information regarding the fundamentals of radiation protection, radiation safety. This is not mentioned in the EHA training course but will give you some highlights and some ideas on how to effectively manage your own program. We'll look at laboratory practices and procedures some maybe do's and don'ts from best practices of what to do and what not to do. We'll look at surveys and distributors and also reinforce the legal requirements as well.
So, like I said, it is the right to operate. We're given that right to [00:07:36] to have the first poll question. And I think James will assist you. But it's a true or fasle and I have every confidence that everyone will get this correct.
Radioactive isotopes are everywhere in nature, including ordinary things like rocks, food, and even inside of our bones. So, I'll give you a few minutes to take a look at that question and answer that.
James: We'll just give a few seconds there. We'll pick things off with an easy question today. So, it looks like everyone voted. I'll share the results now. And, Tony we got 99% say, true.
Tony: Okay, for those of you who picked true, you are correct. And, so sometimes there is no right and wrong answer, but in terms of true, obviously we can see or we can experience radiation exposure through various food sources, protective iodine, carbon 14, and later on which is actually in the stones or the rock environments, radioactive material can come up throughout basement. So, basically, radioactive material is ubiquitous in nature. And again, two more details where it does come from various sources. And also look at medical devices as I mentioned earlier, kind of that increase in CT in medical devices in university settings of the [00:09:24] environment, very interesting statistics which we'll go into a little later on.
Now, hopefully no one was surprised and you all did very well. See how you do with a few more of the poll questions throughout this webinar. So, the agenda here is focused on the free primary information here, comments about program oversight, what are some of the nuts and bolts involved of the program in terms of the compliance with the program. The role of the radiation safety officer and employees who work within the program. And it's very important to provide training and education.
I like the word education refers to this training. Hopefully people will understand what they are doing, why are they doing it and not just check off a training list just for making go back and work with [00:10:16] material. And then some of the documentations which I will emphasize is very important and very critical to the success of the total program.
And then we will summarize in the end and review some maybe burning questions you might have. Questions and answers. Maybe, you can share some lessons learned as well from this webinar.
So, I want to share another tragic example, rather a short one, I don't have a large detail, some of you may or may not know. But, in the late 1990's there was an MIT researcher that was contaminated with radioactive material. I'll keep this one short but basically the researcher, you know, they tested this researcher. They wait for final results. There was a report filed to the Department of Radiation Control. It was investigated by the local and federal authorities. And, they came to a conclusion of a possibility that the researcher contaminated himself as a result.
I don't have any more details but in summary there are people that can misuse radioactive materials. There are also been cases where people have put radioactive materials in water coolers at facilities for whatever reasons. So, back in the 1990's it wasn't a time for, it was well before 9/11 and now that would be considered an act of terrorism. So, again it might seem like a simple example but it's something we want to take very seriously when working with radioactive materials.
[00:11:56] radiation overview, I think the brochure that went out that we're looking at when working with material we want to diminish and reduce our exposure at all cost with working with ionizing radiation. And, ionizing radiation is the radiation that's capable of removing or displacing electrons from nearby atoms and molecules.
If you go back to your basic eight grade Chemistry and Science, it's the basic proton, neutrons and electrons. So, this radiation can actually effects at high doses and can compromise safety. But, many of you may be working in the labs where you are working with low level materials with the chips, carbon, hydrogen, iodine, [00:12:42] and sulphur, and those will be low level and very, you know, if handled properly unlikely can cause safety issues or incidence.
So, we'll provide some basic guidance as far as the webinar and make sure that you are compliant and inspection ready and at least give you some food for thought and some ideas of how you can manage your program.
The next question is what is this? And I also teach, it's got to be part time. So, what I have seen can be astronomy's field. What we see here on the screen is a nebular. It's kind of a supernova. So the idea here is that radiation comes from outer space. Radiation is something that is all around us. The sun does emit solar flares every 11 years and so more radiation come to the Earth at various times and that fluctuates. So, again, radiation is all around us and it comes from the cosmos and the universe as well.
So, in terms of the basic fundamentals I gave some examples of radiation. Looking at the basic proton, neutrons and electrons. So, as radiation is emitted it's releasing alpha, beta, x-rays, gamma rays and that's all part of the ionizing radiation. And then there's a non-ionising radiation which involves your everyday equipment items at home such as microwaves, [00:14:22].
... can penetrate the skin or stay on the skin if you were to be exposed. And then the gamma radiation for example is something that is capable of travelling on longer distances and is struck by led so you want to make sure that you prevent any potential or internal or external hazards.
Let's go to the basic shielding comparison probably well known throughout the field of radiation and how we can stop alpha, beta, gamma radiation by skin, plastic, led, concrete, or lead line poly and water, all of those I think are very important.
So one of the basics of radiation safety issues actually is understanding the hazards of ionizing radiation. What's involved, what's the process and what do we need to do to protect ourselves. But certainly radiation can deposit in the neighboring atoms resulting in the removal of the electrons. So, we're looking at the potential for atoms to enter the human body, enter our cells and kill our cells as well. So, we're working at what can we do to prevent any potential for danger or cancer forming as a result of that hazard.
So, quickly in terms of biological effects radiation does pass through the body and these molecules can do affects on the body which depends on how much dose the body receives and how quickly it receives it.
So, what we're looking at, the government does set some limits, some occupational dose limits for us, we're looking at. And, I'm not going to get into the details of the terminology but again five rounds per year is the maximum dose limit. But, the intention is to reduce that to millirems or ten percent of that. So, we're looking at definitely a greatly reduced amount of exposure and it also depends on potential exposures to lens of your eyes, your skin, minors, someone under the age of 18 is allowed on the laboratories or space where there is potential for hazards and anyone who might be expecting some of the developing fetus has to be protected and so there are some limits that protect people.
And as far as biological effects these materials can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion or even skin absorption or even wound contamination. So, if you get hurt, you can drive radiation through your body.
So, that bring us to a poll question, I think I may have already given you the answer earlier. But, what is a major risk of occupational radiation exposure? So, I think we answered some of the poll questions here in terms of...
James: Yes, that poll question just displayed, we'll get back on a few seconds to answer this one as well.
Tony: So you should have a choice of four answers.
James: More work with radiation, very slight increase in cancer, citation from the regulators and replacement of workers.
Alright. It looks like just about everybody got their answer in. We'll close that now and show the results. 66% chose very slight increase in cancer, Tony.
Tony: Okay. So that is the correct answer. So, based upon the conversation earlier that is the potential risk. But as I've mentioned earlier, if you are working with radioactive material properly, you have all the shielding in place, procedures in place, a control system with a radiation safety officer, that risk should be greatly minimized. And so as you work with more high energy material, if you're working with something like a gamma, a radiator, there are some high risks and they have to be some monitoring and it will controls employees to protect you.
So, that's actually interesting with people to have that understanding and so maybe give you some more information to help you realize that there are these risks that can cause some exposure problems as well.
So, let's take a look then at a few comments here. Kind of a history lesson of radiation safety, Madam Curie and her husband Pierre first discovered curium and radium where first exposed to ionizing radiation back in the early days probably before the 1920's and certainly they helped look at radiation and radiation effects. So, unfortunately they didn't know much about radiation and so they were exposed and experienced some adverse effects related to radiation poisoning.
And so that brings us to an interesting report that I alluded to earlier on ionizing radiation. It's the NCRP report which is the National Council on Radiation Protection. And if you go to this article which is NCRP report number 160 on the population, this is very interesting to me because I've been doing this for a long time.
But back in the 1980's the background radiation was about 360 millirems and now we're up to about 620 millirems. So, this has all taken from background radiation, from medical devices, again, and we're looking at the total amount of radiation exposure that can be experienced during someone's lifetime.
If we take a look at the next slide we can look very closely and have a breakdown of the information as well. So, we're looking at the ubiquitous breakdown here of 300 for the background. Again, many of that or most of it sometimes up to 50% can be from radon, from the normal environment, or from medical as well. And, you can see that that is 53 and 300 from 1987 to 2006. And then we have seen that increase.
So, again, diagnostic medicine we have seen an increase as well. So, I think what's kind of the main point here is that due to the increases or due to the use of medical imaging procedures, CT, nuclear medicine, and other consumer products, industrial and research and occupational task. So, many of these does increase the background radiation. Certainly this may be of a concern. They could still well below the allowable limit. Those of you who are familiar with [00:22:12] standards and permissible exposure limits the allowable PEL for radiation as I said is five rems or 5000 millirems.
But if you put it into perspective in terms of the background radiation, it's certainly much, much less wherever we have problems with as well. You should keep that in mind as well as you go through this.
So, kind of another breakdown if you want to look at all the different sources then I can just report it available you in more details and share with your researchers or employees at your sites. The average dose for the public is 620. the dose for the public from natural sources is 300 millirems, medical uses 300, coal burning power plant. So, certainly they are probably going to have that in the US as much as we do have in other countries like China and some of the other developing countries as well. But they are still a good source of coal burning power in the US.
Average dose to the US public from weapons follow, less than one millirem. So, certainly, that's a consideration as well. There has been an effort to reduce nuclear weapons and so forth. But again average dose from US public from nuclear power is less than 0.1 millirems and then the occupational dose for workers as I mentioned is 5,000 millirems. So, hopefully that puts into perspective. The intention is not to create any major concerns about these data but to give you basics behind radiation.
Radiation as I've been saying is all around us and has been here from the beginning of time and coming to us from around the globe. Obviously if you are flying you have 20-30 microrems as well as part of that. Dental x-rays, chest x-rays, I think you have much less exposure now than before. CT, so this may be where brings in the idea that medical imaging procedures have added to the background radiation. Like CT head and body is 1100 millirems. Therapeutic thyroid treatment, dose to the whole body, 7,000 millirems.
So, obviously there are some benefits for these treatments and for these medical procedures bus shifted now over the years of the typical doses.
So we'll switch gears a little bit and I kind of going from program oversight to training and education and this is a very critical component when making sure that people understand the pros and cons and the hazards of radiation and what they can do to protect themselves and also their co-workers.
I mean, one of the employment cases of radiation protection is personnel monitoring. These would be dosimeter badges and rings, whole body badges, ring badges. Some of them would be worn during experimentations, experiments involving radiation such as foster study tool, iodine 125 and these badges are worn between the waist and the collar on the laboratory coat and so that you can position your name so you can visibly see it in facing out. So, it's really, to capture any exposure to the main part of your body.
And the rings also are used and should be worn under your gloves so that when you're monitoring, if you have any splashes on your hands on your gloves and you may get an erroneous bleeding from the dosimeter report.
So this is critical for those high energy gamma emitters and beta emitters but not for something like [00:26:03] or carbon 14 which you cannot detect with radiation detection devices or with survey meters.
So that brings us to survey meters. So you have a piece that's involved in training and teaching people how to use these devices properly, properly serving and monitoring for contamination, looking at contamination of your body, your hands, your shoes, if you touch your forehead or your glasses you could pass along contaminations, if you want to survey those items as well.
And you would certainly do a survey of your bench area and then swipe an area with that paper towel or swab, 100 centimeter square and then count that in a liquid simulation counter to detect any radiation. So, certainly we can go to the details of survey techniques, measuring, but we want to make sure that everything is below background and that you have detected no contamination.
If you do discover contamination from survey equipment you want to clear the area, go back and test again, do another survey and place that into a liquid simulation counter. So [00:27:17] you might be concerned with in terms of the equipment itself in addition to the survey requirements just make sure that everything is properly calibrated, your liquid simulation counter, your survey meters, anything that might be used to verify your radioactive material and survey.
The next thing I have here and some of you may have, I just happen to pick out a shepherd Mark I Irradiator here which I have used in the past when I was the radiator safety officer for this device. But this is a device that is to be used most likely for people working with animals or working with [00:28:01] with a radiate material and then use it for experimentation.
So, looking at the Mark I it has something that has a very high source, technically a [00:28:13] source which has several hundred thousands of [00:28:19] very high dose of material that is protected below this chamber and comes up into the chamber to a radiate whatever you're looking for a radiate. Again, whether it's an animal or whether it's cells.
And so the key message here is that this is not only have radiation issues but also can serve to create a [00:28:41] which means that that heavy door that you see on the right hand picture can actually can come across and crash your hands and your fingers. Obviously the potential for radiation exposure but you need to monitor this equipment by doing frequent surveys and double checking to make sure everything is safe when people are entering this room.
Now we have strict security guidelines around the area. We have to have a security check, fingerprints and probably a background check as well. So you can use these in any institution throughout the country and you need to have the proper security checks in place for this use.
If anyone has this any of these equipments on site, so simply we welcome some questions at the end as well.
So, these guys bring us to another poll question. So, what does ALARA stand for? And we've talked a little bit about ALARA about protection. But what does this mean to you and what type of training have you had maybe that brings you to the correct answer. We have A, B, C or D.
James: You should see the options listed so we have as low as reasonably allowed, as least as readily available, as low a reasonably achievable and actual levels are reasonable allowable. So, I'll give you a few more seconds to respond to that one.
Alright. So, Tony we've got 65% answered C, as low as reasonably achievable.
Tony: That's a good answer. Obviously, as low as reasonably achievable is correct and that really is taking into consideration time, business and shielding. We were able to work with radioactive material safely as long as we maintain that basic understanding and protection. So, when we're looking at radiation laboratory ALARA we're looking at the time that is spent working with material. So we're reducing and keeping it short, maybe, even practicing with water first before doing the experiment. And, that not only applies to radioactive type of experiments but if you're working with chemicals or you're working with biologics, simply practice this, it's a good practice. Safety is important. So, you think about it throughout anything that you do.
So, keeping time short and then maybe practicing an experiment beforehand becoming more proficient in that experiment before performing it. Keeping at safe distance, it's also kind of right on top of the material. We want to make sure that you have keep the distance away. You're not kind of be right on top of it. You don't want any exposure. That would click on to your badge or your ring, things like that. And that would show that you have a potential exposure if you're too close.
The best thing I want to say to you too is provide proper shielding which we talked about earlier. So, certainly, flexi glass or lead, lines, materials to protect you against certain radiation sources. And then, all of this contamination using your survey meter to survey periodically. Keep the meter on while you're working with radioactive materials. And then if you do detect something that might be contaminated clean that up right away and just understand basically what you need to do to protect yourself during any contamination or spill involving radioactive material.
The best thing to do would be to write up a project description, look up your scope of work and think about how you can practice ALARA and reduce your exposure as much as possible.
So that brings us to another poll question and for your information. For which of the following radiation protection training is required? So you have several choices here. Some of you may have received training in the past. Some of you maybe have given training. But who needs training and you have several selections here to choose from. So James, if you would like to... James: So, we've got just about everyone and I'll go ahead and close that now and share the results. I'll pushing those up. So, Tony we've got 95% answered D, all of the above, 3% C and 2% answered B, experienced radiation workers. So, smart group today, Tony.
Tony: Okay, very good, very experienced. So, everyone needs training and sometimes the group that's missed are the ancillary workers. Those people who are going in and out of the areas where radioactive materials being used to laboratories or laser devices or CT materials and imaging devices. You want to make sure that there's proper protection and then, you need to have a training in place to make sure that people understand that.
And the other key factor with training is you also need to test people as well. So if you test people, you get them engaged then they won't end up like the people in this picture in the radiation training seminar. The topic can be dry but I think if you engage people and get them more involved I think then they'll be more interested in protecting themselves and certainly their co-workers as well. Think about that as you're going through your radiation program or thinking about if you're putting together a radiation program making something that's interesting, engaging people, maybe having a [00:34:35] game or something that people can learn more about.
Certainly there are some basic rules in these restricted areas where radioactive materials are being used. These areas need to be secured and safe and locked. So there are many do's and don'ts when it comes to the rules with radiation safety. I'm not going to read all of these in details but it's something you want to make sure that things are being transported properly, due contamination spills is done immediately in survey as I mentioned earlier. Wash your hands when you're leaving the lab. If you've contaminated your hands you want to get that off.
And I think the key point with washing hands, you don't want to scrub the radioactive materials off, if you scrub too much then you may drive the radioactive materials into your skin and then into your body. So in some cases I have known a co-employee years ago who did experience a contamination with his hands. We couldn't get it off. So, we actually have to wait for it to just normally come off his hands. A very, very low amount but again, we want to be very cautious and we covered it and monitored over a period of time.
So, think about that in terms of your rules, you don't want anyone to come in contact or have this on their hands and even bring it home, keeping that important. You know, if you hired a contractor or other service provider, you have to supervise those people in the radiation room. You don't want to leave people unattended unless you want to provide detailed training for those individuals.
These are just some food for thought and keep that in mind as you go through your program. If you do have any evidence of food in your labs, so you had a pizza and you're eating in the conference room but you threw the box in the lab where radioactive materials are being used and that would be proof or evidence that you are eating in the laboratory. So, something to keep in mind. I think we have a well educated group of people out there now who know better and to not bring food into a laboratory especially into a lab where radioactive materials are being handled.
So, that brings us to the last section of the agenda related to the documentation. And, documentation is very critical to the program since the program as I mentioned is highly regulated, there are a lot of legal requirements, at least I'm speaking at a Massachusetts radiation control program but again other areas and other states have compliance programs, this is just an example. If some of you if you have issued that license it's important to follow those and adhere to the legal requirements.
What's important here in the last bullet is failure to maintain compliance in Massachusetts or any state could result in enforcement actions, including a license suspension or revocation. I think that's the last thing that you want your institution to go through is some kind of an enforcement action or you know goes with something that would jeopardize your research and the people who are there at your institution.
So, these regulations are required. It's very important for documentation to [00:37:57] when someone comes in to inspect or regulate it your document should be very clear and precise and you know exactly how much material is coming into the facility, how much is leaving, and being able to account for that material. If you have those in place and there's no need to continue to dig even further into the program to show that you have control over the program and you have systems in place.
So, certainly in Massachusetts again there are rights and responsibilities of a worker and they can notify the state if they think they have a problem or they are not being protected adequately and then certainly for the license administrations the state does inspect facilities every two to three years. They can forget you and come maybe five but you want to be prepared and inspection ready. So if you don't want to wait for an inspection you want to make sure that you have your program in place and you should also be doing annual inspection on your own and periodically checking your program throughout the year as well.
And these requirements or legal requirements for documentation are certainly very important again as I mentioned, annual training, appointing a radiation safety officer and making sure that you have a formal inventory system, document your surveys and your equipment maintenance as well, of those are very important in establishing compliance with the program.
I think James has brings us to programs of responsibilities and we have a poll question coming up as well. But in terms of the problem if the employees have the responsibility, they need to certainly maintain awareness, apply the company or institutional policies and handle material with caution, dispose of appropriately or maintain the lab that I spoke about and [00:39:57] in a secure manner.
The radiation uses also have to handle it in a safe way and keep exposures as low as reasonably achievable. Obviously if you're a radiation employee or in the area you need to have that training as well and maybe even have a permit in place that's customized to the institution to maintain that program.
We've taught people about inventory controls but radioactive materials they need to be locked up. Inventories up to date, do a daily close out and use log and make sure that everything is safe before leaving the laboratory.
Waste disposal is something to be considered and properly documented, consider any potential for exposure in the waste process especially if you have mixed waste, chemicals or biologicals that needs to be handled appropriately. In some cases you may need to decay, I didn't go into very detail but you can decay a material for a period of time and then you can sort of [00:41:01] chemical waste as opposed to radiological waste. And so again, when you're in doubt you would contact your RSO, he or she would provide you with those details for waste disposal. Any packages are coming in? Certainly, we'd look at the facing the label and put it in trash.
So who do you contact? And so we have a little capsule here. Contact your radiation safety officer that you might have missing material, maybe you lost a dosimetry badge or [00:41:30] problem. Receiving our shipping radioactive material, or if you need any special training as a result of your experimentation.
Again, and not so we're having the detail but documentation is very important. We want to make sure that all of the paperwork is in place. And I may say that's a tedious task but it's necessary to make sure that you can prove that your program is in place. So, keep that in mind as well.
I think this brings us to another poll question about... so we have program oversight, documentation and summary, we do have another poll question coming up.
So what are you most concerned with about when it comes to radiation safety? What bring question, what might keep you awake at night, and before you answer this question I may be asked you answering this question, are you have then working in the biotech industry for 20-25 years, there was a biotech company and I will not name that company, they spill of a B32, I happen to be on the stairway. Someone actually didn't notice they spilled it. It was tracked throughout the entire facility. It was tracked throughout the building very close to the manufacturing area. Someone tracked it home, brought it to their car. So then that was certainly a regulatory nightmare or radiation control nightmare which brought in the local federal authorities. So, maybe I've given you the answer but maybe this is a concern that you have as well or something that could happen.
So, James, I'm sorry, I'm a little too long on this.
James: I think you may have crossed the spike and answer right. But, 60% we have for contamination, we'll close that poll now and share the results. And, you'll see here 17% chose keeping track of the procedures, 16% waste disposal and only 5% chose surprise inspections.
Tony: Okay, that's good. So, certainly those are all valid concerns. And if you have, 60% is your high one for contamination, I think it's important to think about why is it so high, what kind of training program do you have in place, where are those potential risks and do you have any data to support the contamination concerns. So it sounds that some of you may have those concerns already and so you need to kind of refine your program.
So, hopefully, some of the information you have here can also substantiate and improve that you can also share with your radiation safety program. So it really boils down to our key message again, it's really important to protect employees from radiation exposure or contamination and maintain compliance. But, at 60% of the [00:44:27] contamination then certainly there's some challenges there to think about what you can do to reduce that. And as I said earlier engaging people in conversations and sometimes it's best for the people working with radioactive material to come up with a solution as well.
And that has always been my experience in the past. So, certainly in summary we have what I'd like to share is from my experience I believe that safety is a value not a priority. And, people say, oh, safety is number one. But, if you don't incorporate safety as a value into your safety program or into your organizations it's less likely that safety will come to the top. If it's incorporated and aligned with your goals, I think it is most likely that it would be more successful. So, you need management support as part of that, and that kind of drive that and to give people with incentives. That's may be more of your safety culture and how that will triple into your radiation safety culture as well.
I've already talked about engaging people more and helping them being part of the solution and not the problem. And also, communicate hazards and making it clear this is what could happen. You know, I also think about my days in my graduate school days where I did not have any training at all. I was working with Tridium. So I guess I was lucky. I don't remember I got any contamination but certainly I think having the right attitude and the right frame of mind to do the right thing is very important.
So I think we can open it up, James, to some additional questions. Any other burning questions you might have regarding this webinar or any questions you might have?
James: Sure. And thank you Tony for kicking things off here with these discussions. And, we do have a few questions that have come in. I will encourage those of you that have a question we've got about 10 minutes to go. So, please get your questions submitted while we have Tony here and I will provide his contact information later on in case you want to get in touch after the webinar.
Let’s start with a few that have come in so far and we'll take as many as we can. Tony, to start, can you speak more to the regulations around radiation safety?
Tony: And some of the regulations, certainly they all start with the application. So you need to comply first with submitting an application to the radiation patrol program. I'm speaking for Massachusetts. These regulations have to be very clear. You have to submit detailed information about the equipment that you're planning to use will be the RSO, will be the radiation users, you know details about your compliance piece and certainly the regulations that are in place. I did highlight a few things in the webinar. But, certainly looking at the big picture for your program and making sure that you do things like keeping reports in place and ready for uses.
In Massachusetts, there's also a compliance fees and regulations that requires people to fill out a radioactive waste survey annually and that is required from us. Other states may have that as well but it's really to document the waste that's being shipped out of the facility and tracking how much material you're using. And that relates on that. I guess, it relates to a fee that the state also sends out to each users. So, the compliance fee is very important and the regulations are important to follow.
So, I'm not sure that answers the original question but certainly I'd be happy to chat with any individuals who want more details about regulations.
James: Excellent. And, you mentioned the acronym RSO again, and one question came in, what is RSO? So, if you could clarify that for this attendee that would be great.
Tony: Oh, sure. RSO is the Radiation Safety Officer. Sometimes, it's also could be referred to as radiation safety protection officer but RSO is someone who has authority through management and through the program, manages the program and actually can shut down the program and take people out of the program. So, they have a very important role within the organization.
James: Thanks for clarifying. Question form Erica. Can you clarify signage posting requirements and where they need to be posted, outside the lab, next to the radiation producing equipment, etcetera?
Tony: Yes, so outside the lab and then also you can post a notice to employees. That's required by the NRC, having an NRC posting and masks are requirements. You should also label your equipment that's in your lab where radioactive materials are being used and all of that should be in a secured area and properly labelled and documented.
James: Okay, excellent. And what type of qualifications or training or certifications do you need to become an RSO? That's our next question.
Tony: So, typically what I have done in the past to become an RSO is to take a [00:49:32] class. If you go through all the details of radiation protection and so you'll learn more details about the fundamentals, the radiation atomic structure, the characteristics of radiation, unit of measure. So, we didn't have time today to go through the rem and the rad, all the different distinctions between the symmetry, so really understanding all of that and understand the levels of radiation from license material.
So a [00:50:02] class will give you all those details, give you some examples on how to handle and use devices and maybe some examples of radiation, laboratory procedures, more details on contamination controls and surge, accountability of material. And then, we didn't cover the right details but you will also get experience with emergency procedures.
If you have a spill what do you do? If you lose some material and it ends up in the dumpster, you go and retrieve it, how do you report that? If that's an emergency or an incident and obviously if someone is injured as a result, all of that would be part of a partly hour report. But the RSO after going through that training can also take that and provide training to employees in the program.
James: I hope that was helpful. And, Tony, like you've said, you've been doing this for quite a while so those are recommendations for this attendee. And, we've got time for two or three more questions. Want to talk a little bit about audits and how often should a radiation safety program be reviewed? Is annual enough?
Tony: Annual is probably a good practice. But, for my experience, I've actually put together like a quarterly review, quarterly reports. You know, as I've mentioned earlier there's a radioactive waste survey in Massachusetts that you need to submit. I think if you monitor your records periodically such as quarterly, I think that's more proven practice and the best practice for a program. And it does ensure that you're keeping track of material.
If there's any question about your inventory records you've [00:51:47] that sooner. You may want to do it monthly, depending on the size of your program as well.
James: Okay, great. Thanks for that. And, finally can you walk us through a typical audit. What exactly are you looking for?
Tony: Oh, so, certainly we're looking at I guess training records. The inspector can come in, look at the training records. Make sure you've done your annual training, it's meeting the requirements of your application because you are required to put in a detailed description of your training. They may come in and also interview employees. So you need to prepare your employees for that. They have a right to ask so they not interfere with work. But they can talk with individuals
The audit too will go through you written program. Make sure that you have an adequate radiation protection written program in place. And then, they'll look at practices in the lab, as you go through the lab area or if it's a university or other areas and they'll look at those areas to make sure that there's good housekeeping, there's no evidence of any contamination. They may even bring a survey meter with them. So they'll just check to make sure that everything is in place. Your material is secured and locked up the way it should be and some of those of details. So, that's pretty much what they will look. Just verify compliance and verify your license requirements.
James: Perfect. Thanks for walking us through that. And Tony, that will do it for questions. We'll move on to the next slide. I want to just clarify what everyone's going to receive as far as follow up materials. I did not mention this before but you will get a copy of the recording in the slide deck. So you will receive that in an email tomorrow morning.
I want to draw your attention also to the link on your screen. You could follow that to request a complimentary gap analysis. As part of this analysis someone like Tony will help you assess your current program and identify and provide recommendations for closing any particular gaps and this will help you in preparing for your audit which we will also be able to assist with if you guys want to come out and do a more comprehensive inspection. So, feel free to follow that link. For more details Tony's email is provided if you have any additional questions after digesting the information from today. So, feel free to reach to him. I'm sure he'll be happy to respond to any of your questions.
And finally just feel free to take a hold of Triumvirate. There's a phone number there. We do offer a comprehensive EHNS services including waste disposal, lab decontamination and engineering services. So, we'd love to talk to you and find out what your current and future needs are.
So, thank you very much for your participation. That will do it for this webinar today. Tony, do you have anything to add before we close down?
Tony: No. I also want to thank everyone. And look forward to hopefully talking to someone in the future.
James: Very good. Well, thank you. And, please expect that email tomorrow. Let us know what you thought. We'll send a survey and we'll appreciate questions. Take care. Have a great day and we'll see you next time. Bye.