Radiation Safety Training

Radiation Safety Training: The Basics of Maintaining ALARA

Appreciation of ALARA considerations begins with the radiation safety training program at every facility. Introductory or a refresher training courses, all employees need to be instructed on the ALARA concept and to understand the theory behind this practice. When presented as a method of protecting the employee, proper ALARA training can lead to a cooperative team effort to minimize radiation exposure for everyone involved. Simply reciting the mantra of “Perform surveys, prevent spills, minimize time, utilize shielding and maximize distance” is not enough. In order to elicit the cooperation of the employees, it is imperative to demonstrate exactly what the facility is doing to minimize radiation exposures and to then encourage the employees to investigate and develop their own methods as well. Seeing and learning what others have achieved stimulates creative ideas among the employees and assists in maintaining exposures ALARA.

Medical facility management is responsible for establishing RSO qualifications and credentials based on the unique requirements of its facilities and programs, and the regulations governing its licenses for radioactive material and radiation producing devices, considering, at a minimum:


  • All requirements contained in the facility’s radioactive materials licenses, registrations (as applicable), and ALARA statements.
  • The number of radiation-producing machines at the facility and their use, including diagnostic and interventional x-ray equipment, linear accelerators, and PET cyclotrons.
  • The possession or use of radioactive materials, sealed and unsealed, including high- and low-dose-rate afterloaders, 60Coteletherapy units, and blood and cell irradiators.
  • The use of nonionizing radiation sources, including lasers, microwave generators, and other electromagnetic radiation sources.
  • The use of radioactive materials or radiation-producing equipment in areas other than conventional radiology, nuclear medicine, or radiation oncology, such as surgery, 1) AAHP AND HPS MEDICAL HEALTH PHYSICS SECTION SQ/P-002 2) cardiology, or clinical or research laboratories.

Medical facility management shall also periodically review the requirements for RSO qualifications and credentials based on anticipated changes in facilities and programs. At least annually the RSO shall evaluate her or his qualifications and credentials against the medical facility’s needs and programs (current and anticipated) and the regulations governing those programs. The RSO shall notify the medical facility management when additional training, experience, or personnel are necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the office. In notifying management of the need for additional qualifications, theRSO should recommend the most appropriate means to achieve these ends, including the possibilities of:


  • Self-training for the RSO and possibly the safety staff.
  • Acquiring additional knowledgeable staff in the needed subject areas.
  • Using the services of experts on an as-needed basis from other facility services, manufacturers, or outside consultants

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