Chilliwack, BC – The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC and Radiation Safety Institute of Canada have conducted an exploratory review to understand the prevalence of x-ray radiation risk and control within the manufacturing sector.
“Without effective radiation risk and control programs, this continued growth and new applications of x-ray technologies are expected to increase the level of risk for workers. A serious emerging health risk could impact the manufacturing industry. Education, proper risk-assessment tools and effective controls are necessary to mitigate these risks,” said Steve Horvath, CEO of the RSIC.
An online radiation awareness course and interactive survey were developed and launched to determine the understanding of the risks associated with radiation. The combined intervention was designed to understand the prevalence of radiation risk and control and to provide knowledge to workers within the manufacturing sector. Completed surveys indicate that there are few well-developed radiation safety programs in place.
Looking ahead, the RSIC and the Alliance have engaged in a memorandum of understanding to work together to provide radiation education and support to organizations that harbor radiation risks.
X-ray and radiation sources are prevalent throughout manufacturing and other sectors looking to increase productivity, quality and product safety such as farming, forestry, saw mills, pulp and paper, construction, pharmaceuticals, and chemical processing.
Product quality needs to be controlled and verified on the production line, and incorporating x-ray, radiography, or laser inspection into a food processing or manufacturing business is one of the most effective ways to safeguard against potential issues and meet ever-increasing industry and consumer standards.
“It’s often a part of weld inspections, internal inspections, fill inspections, and non-destructive testing, and exposure over time can really harm people” said Larry White, the training and resource development specialist who has been working on the project for the Alliance.
“Our successful partnership with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC was built on their proven reputation among the BC manufacturing community for being credible, knowledgeable, and proactive on workplace health issues and emerging risks, and their ability to develop effective OHS management systems and workplace tools. Our collaboration has resulted in practical solutions for BC employers to avoid potential health risks associated with new and developing x-ray source technologies,” said Horvath.
“The hope is that it will help fill a void, help to improve radiation safety in the workplace and reduce radiation-related injuries,” said White.
He added that what surprised him most in the survey results was how few people know about the risks of radiation even when they’re working with it almost every day, and that there is an overall lack of awareness around the proper safety protocols.
Gaining an understanding of radiation risk to the manufacturing sector in BC allows the Alliance, in collaboration with RSIC, to build the foundation for an effective risk control and mitigation strategy. Providing tools and resources for employers to learn the scope of risks, compliance levels and controls of radiation.
“We don’t know everything that we need to when it comes to radiation, but we’re learning and the science is evolving,” said White.
As food and drug safety and occupational health and safety regulations in BC evolve to address radiation more stringently, the importance of compliance and traceability through every stage of a product’s life cycle will continue to grow. For full compliance, food processors and manufacturers must be able to access product-tracking information simply and quickly. In the future, product inspection equipment will need to function as management tools as well as process control tools to provide the information required to make informed decisions about prevention and guarantee compliance.
At the same time, cancers of various types are a potential outcome of occupational overexposure to radiation. That is why the radiation risks associated with industrial x-ray equipment must be managed. Due to the long latency periods, sometimes decades later, connecting individual incidents of cancer to a specific workplace exposure will continue to be a challenge.
“A proactive approach to workplace radiation exposure, focused on prevention is not only a safe alternative, but a necessity,” said Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC’s CEO Lisa McGuire.
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