Radiation Safety Emergencies

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EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

Major Spills Involving Radiation Hazards to Personnel
  1. Notify all persons not involved in the spills to vacate the room at once. Limit the movement of displaced persons to confine the spread of contamination.
  2. If the spill is liquid and the hands are protected, right the container; otherwise, use a stick or lever. Use absorbent materials to prevent the spread of the spill.
  3. If the spill is on the skin, flush thoroughly.
  4. If the spill is on clothing, discard outer or protective clothing at once.
  5. Switch off all fans.
  6. Vacate the rooms.
  7. Notify the Radiation Safety Officer as soon as possible.
  8. Take immediate steps to decontaminate personnel involved as necessary.
  9. Decontaminate the area (personnel involved in decontamination must be adequately protected). The Radiation Safety Officer will direct the decontamination.
  10. Monitor all persons involved in the spill and cleaning.
  11. Permit no person to resume work in the area without the approval of the Radiation Safety Officer.
  12. A complete history of the accident and subsequent activity must be submitted to the Radiation Safety Officer.
Minor Spills Involving No Radiation Hazard to Personnel.
  1. Notify all other persons in the room and area at once.
  2. Survey people before they become dispersed and change clothes as necessary.
  3. Permit only the minimum number of persons necessary to deal with the spill.
  4. Confine the spill immediately:
    1. Liquid Spills: Don protective gloves; drop absorbent paper on spill.
    2. Dry Spills: Don protective gloves dampen area thoroughly, taking care not to spread the contamination. Water may generally be used except when chemical reaction with the water would generate an air contaminate when oil should be used instead.
  5. Decontaminate; make a plan first.
  6. A complete history of the accident and subsequent remedial or protective measures must be submitted to the Radiation Safety Officer.
Fires and Other Major Emergencies.
  1. Notify all other persons in the room and building at once.
  2. Notify the fire department and other local plant safety personnel as well as the Radiation Safety Officer.
  3. Attempt to put out fires by approved means if radiation hazard is not immediately present.
  4. Govern firefighting or other emergency activities by the restrictions of the Radiation Safety Officer. Avoid, if possible, the tracking of contamination or passing of contaminated equipment into clean areas by emergency workers.
  5. Monitor all persons involved in combating the emergency.
  6. Following the emergency, monitor the area and determine the protective devices necessary for safe decontamination.
  7. Decontaminate; follow a plan.
  8. Permit no person to return to work without the approval of the Radiation Safety Officer.
  9. Prepare a complete history of the emergency and subsequent activity related thereto for the Radiation Safety Officer.
Accidents Involving Radioactive Dusts, Mists, Fumes, Organic Vapors and Gases.
  1. Notify all persons to vacate the room immediately.
  2. Hold breath and close air vents.
  3. Vacate the room; seal off area, if possible.
  4. Notify the Radiation Safety Officer at once.
  5. Ascertain that all doors giving access to the room are closed. Post conspicuous warnings or guards to prevent accidental opening of the doors.
  6. Monitor all persons suspected of contamination. Proceed with decontamination of personnel.
  7. Report at once to the Radiation Safety Officer all known or suspected inhalations of radioactive materials.
  8. Evaluate the hazard and the safety devices necessary for safe reentry.
  9. Determine the cause of contamination and rectify the condition.
  10. Decontaminate the area only upon the advice of the Radiation Safety Officer.
  11. Perform an air survey of the area before permitting work to be resumed.
  12. Submit a complete history of the accident and subsequent activities to the Radiation Safety Officer.
Injuries to Personnel, Involving Radiation Hazard.
  1. Wash minor wound immediately under running water, spreading the edges of the gash.
  2. Report all radiation accidents involving personnel (wounds, overexposure, ingestion, and inhalation) to the Radiation Safety Officer as soon as possible.
  3. Call at once a physician qualified to treat radiation injuries.
  4. Permit no person involved in a radiation injury to return to work without the approval of the attending physician and the Radiation Safety Officer.
  5. Prepare a complete history of the accident and subsequent activity related thereto for the Radiation Safety Officer.

DECONTAMINATION TECHNIQUES

Decontamination techniques are needed for personnel and areas. Damp wiping and mopping with water and detergent are the first steps. If the chemical characteristics of the contaminant are not known, detergents of neutral pH are preferable to soaps, which (in some instances) may cause fixation of certain nuclides rather than removal. Complexing agents, e.g., citric acid or chelating agents (EDTA or DTPA) in combination with detergent or soap increase the cleaning efficiency; the action of chelating agents is accelerated by warming. Occasionally, weak hydrochloric or nitric acid may be of value. The procedure for decontamination is given below.

Preoperational
  1. Plan the decontamination operation thoroughly, and obtain supplies.
  2. Provide adequate protection for all decontamination personnel, and allow for replacements.
  3. Provide safe storage of all radioactive wastes and decontamination supplies.
Operational
  1. Always work toward the center of contamination.
  2. Take care not to spread or track contamination to cleaner (lower activity) areas.
  3. Monitor frequently and thoroughly.
  4. Cover clean areas with plastic sheets, kraft paper, or its equivalent.
  5. Monitor all personnel and materials before permitting their movement to clean areas.
Post Operational
  1. Quarantine all used cleaning solutions and decontamination equipment until they can be monitored.

RADIOISOTOPE USE AND EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

Laboratory Guidelines for Isotope Use

DO’s

  1. Do read and become familiar with the Radioisotope Safety Manual.
  2. Do wear protective laboratory apparel (coats, aprons, gloves, safety glasses).
  3. Do wear your Film Badges while working with radioisotopes.
  4. Do confine all radioisotope use to a tray lined with absorbent paper.
  5. Do dispose of solid radioactive wastes in the proper container.
  6. Do monitor yourself and your area (lab bench, sink, and floor) during and upon completion of the experiment.

DON'Ts

  1. Do not smoke, drink, eat or use cosmetics in the lab where radioisotopes are used.
  2. Do not keep food or drinks in the refrigerator where radioisotopes are stored.
  3. Do not pipette radioactive solutions by mouth.
  4. Do not work with radioisotopes in unauthorized areas.
Emergency Procedures
  1. Persons splashed with radioactive solution shall wash thoroughly with soap and water for not less than two minutes.
  2. If spill is on clothing, remove outer clothing at once and immediately survey skin under contaminated clothing. Contaminated clothing should be thoroughly washed with soap and water.
  3. Wash minor wounds immediately under running water while spreading edges of the wound.
  4. Report any ingestion or inhalation to the RSO as soon as possible.
  5. Monitor all persons involved in the emergency.
  6. For more details on emergency procedures, see section E-4 of the Radioisotope Use and Safety Manual.