Report number 162, Self Assessment of Radiation Safety Programs, is the latest report published in March 2010 by the NCRP (National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement). It is an informative report for all of us and is particularly relevant for all physicists who are also responsible for the radiation safety program at their institution. Self Assessment of Radiation Safety Programs is defined by the NCRP as:
“Self assessment is a process by which an organization evaluates its compliance with external regulatory requirement and commitments and with its own internal radiation safety program requirements. It is a proactive component of an effective management plan for a radiation safety program. This report will cover the types of assessments, their purposes, and the processes for conducting them. It will discuss the frequency, the program areas to be assessed, the documentation, and the follow-up of assessments. The report will also discuss guidance for the scheduling and resolution of corrective actions.”
The report provides information and guidance on the following topics:
- Definition and purposes of self assessment;
- Types of self assessment (i.e., performance based, risk based, compliance based, task, process and program level, formal and informal);
- Responsibilities for establishing self-assessment programs including upper management, line management, the radiation safety committee, radiation safety program personnel including the radiation safety manager or radiation safety officer, and the workers;
-Self assessment program planning for an institution, including determining the purpose and type of self assessment, selecting the program elements to be assessed, allocating the necessary resources, and developing a self assessment program review plan;
- Qualification and selection of individuals performing the self assessments;
- Self assessment methods and techniques including evaluation of radiation safety program survey and monitoring results, workplace observations, interviews, document reviews, checklists, review of metrics, and questionnaires;
- Types of deficiencies that can be identified in the self-assessment process, ranging from the minor ones that are most likely to be found to those that are more serious;
- Identification of noteworthy practices;
- Planning an individual self assessment including the program elements to be assessed, the schedule for performing the self assessment, and the types of self assessment to be used;
- Conducting the self assessment including the entrance meeting, performing the assessment activities, daily team conferences, upper management briefings, exit meeting, and documentation;
- Documenting the self assessment including writing reports, report approval, communicating the results, and legal consideration; and
- Developing corrective-action plans including tracking and resolution of corrective actions and reviewing the effectiveness of the corrective-action program.
In a recent newsletter of the Health Physics Society (Volume XXXVIII Number 4 April 2010), it was noted that David Myers, an HPS member, worked on NCRP Report 162. In the newsletter, he provides more information about the latest report and its importance to the radiation safety programs of all institutions. The report can be purchased through the NCRP web site for $50 or $40 in pdf format.
Have you ever seen radioactive material labeled with the units Roentgen – Equivalent – Beta rays/second (reb/sec)? A medical physicist recently told me he came across these units on a Strontium-90 source at his new job while he was taking inventory of radioactive materials. This particular source was labeled with its model and serial number, as usual, but its radioactivity (the strength of the source) was given in Roentgen – Equivalent – Beta rays/second (reb/sec) instead of millicuries (mCi). Since the convention is to use miC when recording source strength in the inventory log book, he was wondering how to convert these units to mCi. Since I had not worked with Sr-90, I didn’t know the answer myself. I spoke to a couple of experienced physicists I know, and surprisingly no one had the answer. Like any good scientist, this peaked my curiosity…so I did some research. I am guessing many physicists may not know the answer, so I am sharing the fruits of my labor and the result of my due diligence in this post. This is for those who, like me, are curious and are interested to learn: Read more
If you are a medical physicist who is also serving as the Radiation Safety Officer for your institution, it’s a good idea to take your responsibility as the RSO seriously and to give a higher priority to your duties as an RSO over your other responsibilitites as a medical physicist. “The NRC must be able to rely on individuals assigned to performing key safety functions at NRC-licensed facilities,” said Mark Satorius, Regional Administrator of the NRC Region 3 office in Lisle, Illinois. He continues: “A radiation safety officer is in the front line of ensuring the safe use of nuclear materials. It is a big responsibility and needs to be taken seriously.” These statements were published in a recent NRC press release dated July 31, 2009. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued a confirmatory order to a radiation safety officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs Center in Lexington, Ky for failing to implement the radiation safety program in accordance with federal regulations. For details on the story you can click on this link:
NCRP Report No. 160, “Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the United State,” was released in March 2009. This report is an update of the NCRP report No. 93 that was published in 1987. A copy of this report should be in every physics office, and reviewing this report is a must if you are a medical physicist who is responsible for teaching radiation safety education to radiation workers or if you are a physicist who is planning to take the board exam.
In summary, the main message of NCRP No.160 is that the population dose (the collective effective dose) has doubled since the previously reported value. See table below.
|Collective effective dose (person-Sv)||835,000||1,870,000|
|Effective dose per individual in the US population (mSv)||3.6||6.2|
*The main increase in medical radiation is that the use of CT in diagnostic procedures has increased from a few million procedures per year in the 1980s to over 60 million procedures in 2006.
The other interesting piece of information to glean from the report is that commercial airline crews are the workers who received the highest annual individual dose at a little above 3 mSv. Another occupational category to note are the workers in nuclear power plants who received about 2 mSv. All other occupational categories received average annual dose exposures of less than 1 mSv.
For more information on this report go to the NCRP website.