Dosimeter 101: Instructions on Radiation Badge Use
Radiation badges are an incredibly important piece of occupational safety for many workers. It is crucial that guidelines are followed so that badges can provide the most accurate measures of radiation and ensure personnel safety.
In this article we will take a deeper look at the steps that must be followed for the proper usage of radiation dosimeters. As always, we hope you find this article informative, and we look forward to hearing your feedback!
Radiation Exposure Prevention
Radiation badges do not directly protect workers from exposure. However, they are the main component of radiation dosimetry, which documents radiation dose. This ensures that each radiation worker can monitor their exposure limits and in doing so can avoid exceeding the allowable limits established by governing bodies.
Work With Your Radiation Safety Office
An organization’s Radiation Safety Office is generally comprised of a qualified expert called a radiation safety officer (RSO), a management representative, and personnel who work with radiation-producing equipment or are otherwise at risk of occupational exposure.
This office is responsible for the implementation, coordination, and supervision of a company’s radiation safety program. It is also tasked with ensuring that the organization is following all federal, state, and local regulations. The office has the authority to enforce radiation policies and procedures with respect to both radiation safety and regulatory compliance.
Adhere to the Radiation Safety Program
As we detailed in our previous blog titled, “Radiation Safety Programs: A Comprehensive Guide,” an effective radiation safety program includes:
- A dosimetry program in which personal exposure monitoring is conducted as required by federal or state regulations.
- Surveys and area monitoring to document elevated radiation levels, contamination with radioactive materials, and potential occupational exposures.
- Radiological controls, including entry and exit controls, receiving, inventory control, storage, and disposal.
- Proper training for workers with respect to radiation protection, including the negative health effects associated with ionizing radiation dose.
- Emergency procedures to recognize and respond to radiological emergency situations.
- Accurate reporting to maintain all records and provide dosimetry reports and notifications.
- Internal procedures to audit all aspects of the radiation program annually to ensure adequate protection.
General Rules for Dosimeter Badge Use
- Only the person assigned a dosimetry badge should wear it (in other words, only wear a badge with your name on it). Do not give someone else your badge to use, and do not use it for monitoring an area (this is what area monitors are for).
- A radiation dosimeter should be worn whenever there is a possibility of exposure to ionizing radiation (i.e. gamma radiation, x-rays, etc.) during the workday.
- The badge should be worn such that monitoring is optimized during the wear period (more on this below under “How to Wear Each Type of Badge”). Dosimeters should always be turned to face the source of radiation.
- Dosimeters that aren’t being used should never leave the workplace. They should be stored in a safe area with low background radiation when not in use. Avoid storing in areas with high temperatures and high humidity.
- Do not lose or damage badges. Report missing, lost, or damaged badges promptly to your badge coordinator or your Radiation Safety Office.
- Your badge will usually be exchanged monthly or quarterly based on risk (more on this below). It is important that you return your badge on time at the end of each monitoring period.
- If you wear a lead apron, the badge must be worn over top of the apron, not underneath it. Some exceptions to this rule is the “fetal monitor,” which is worn in the abdominal area and underneath the lead, or an EDE or Webster calculations.
How Often Should Dosimeters Be Exchanged?
Generally, dosimeter badges are exchanged on a monthly or quarterly basis. How frequently a badge needs to be exchanged depends on the risk of exposure in the specific workplace (higher risk means more frequent exchanges).
Control Badges & the Exchange Process
A control dosimeter is issued with every group of dosimetry badges sent to an organization. This control badge helps determine background radiation exposure, and captures any exposures to the shipment of badges during transit.
The control must be stored away from any radiation source to avoid picking up exposure. For more on this, please refer to our blog, “8 Must-Know Facts About Control Dosimeters.”
Lost or Damaged Monitoring Badges
If a badge is lost or damaged, it’s crucial that this is reported to your radiation safety office immediately so the issue can be addressed, and a new badge can be ordered or given to you.
Reviewing Dose Reports
Each radiation badge will contribute to a dose report. The analysis of the badge results in the legal dose of record. Dose reports also contain a wide array of data for review by an organization’s Radiation Safety Office. These reports provide detailed information needed to maintain a compliant program at the federal, state, and local levels.
Dose reports also track each worker’s cumulative radiation dose throughout the year. This is important as it sheds light on how close an employee’s dose is to the annual applicable radiation dose limit as well as any ALARA notifications (as-low-as-reasonably-achievable as a worker should stay within safe dose limits.
How To Wear Different Types of Badges
Whole Body Dosimeter
For the purposes of external radiation exposure, “whole body” is considered to be the head, torso, arms above the elbow, or legs above the knee. These badges are generally worn on the whole body location receiving the highest radiation dose, collar, waist, or torso, with the label facing the source of the radiation.
Ring dosimeters should be worn when there is a possibility of significant exposure to the hand. It is important to wear ring dosimeters on whichever hand has the highest exposure. Sometimes meaning a ring might be worn on both hands to more accurately measure exposure. Ring dosimeters should be worn under gloves to eliminate the risk of contamination.
A wrist badge is fitted with a velcro strap which allows it to be worn around the wrist. The wrist badge is used for radiation workers whose arms may receive a higher exposure and could also be due to safety issues or dexterity problems.
Fetal Monitors are available for pregnant radiation workers to ensure the fetus does not exceed the allowable limit for the entire gestational period. These badges should be worn close to the embryo/fetus to ensure the most accurate dose is obtained.
What if Badges Aren’t Required, But You Want To Wear One?
If you happen to work in an environment where the potential for some radiation exposure exists but monitoring is not required, you can request monitoring equipment.
Be sure to connect with your organization’s Radiation Safety Office or officer to discuss your safety concerns, and they can assist with solutions.
Which Badges Are Right For Your Organization?
Radiation Detection Company has almost 75 years of experience providing quality dosimetry solutions to over 27,000 companies nationwide. Not sure what type of dosimeters your organization needs? Please contact us, and our team will be happy to provide guidance.
Have a question that we did not touch on in this article? Please reach out to our Customer Care team, and one of our specialists will be more than happy to help.