New in training | X-ray safety in manufacturing and food processingLisa Thibault
by Lisa Thibault
X-ray machines are not new – they’ve been in use for decades for medical, dental, and veterinary diagnostics. Almost everyone is familiar with having their teeth x-rayed at the dentist’s office or a limb x-rayed after a bad fall or accident. The use of x-ray technology in diagnostics is heavily regulated, and highly-trained users operate the equipment.
Today, other industries, including manufacturing, are using x-ray technology in new ways. X-ray equipment is a critical component of non-destructive testing in many manufacturing settings and can also be used to:
- Ensure quality control and consumer safety in their products
- Detect physical contaminants such as impurities and foreign objects in products
- Measure mass, count components, and monitor fill levels on products
- Inspect for damage in products already in-seal
Unlike medical x-ray machines, there is no national or provincial registry for x-ray machines in other industries, and operators may not receive the same extensive training standard in medical and diagnostic settings.
Despite their increased use, many companies may not be aware of the hazards x-ray equipment poses to workers if the proper controls are not in place. Overexposure to radiation can cause many types of cancer, and these effects may not develop for decades after the exposure.
Exposure management is a critical component for x-ray safety in the workplace. Because the impacts of radiation exposure may not be visible for many years, it’s essential to limit that exposure from the start to reduce the risk to workers.
Exposure management includes:
- Limiting the time of exposure
- Increasing proximity to x-ray emitting equipment
- Shielding radiation sources
If you are using x-ray equipment in your company, you must be aware of the hazards and review the controls required to keep workers safe around radiation-emitting equipment. If you don’t understand how to maintain and repair your equipment, you could be putting yourself and your people at risk for long-term health complications.
- An effective radiation safety program should include:
- Engineering controls to maintain distance from the machine
- Appropriate maintenance and sealing of x-ray equipment to remove the risk of radiation leaks
- Barrier zones around radiation-emitting machinery
- Training, education, and signage for equipment
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) where appropriate
We recently launched a brand-new e-course that tackles the important safety topic of x-ray equipment in the workplace. Developed in consultation with the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada, this self-paced course tackles various issues related to x-ray usage in a manufacturing environment.
Learn more about radiation safety – including your roles and responsibilities in developing an x-ray safety program, safety controls, and maintaining a safety culture at X-ray Safety in the Workplace.