When a radioactive spill or accident takes place, a quick and practiced response is a must. However, responders can only do so much if they don’t have a proper radioactive spill kit on hand.
What’s in Your Radioactive Spill Kit?
The combination of a well-designed, organized and accessible Radioactive Spill Kit, and the implementation of the right contents, mitigates the potential for harm and will save lives.
The contents of your company’s radioactive spill kits will very slightly depending on the hazardous materials used and the information corresponding to their Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). However, some of the most common contents required for a spill kit include:
- “Radioactive Hazard” warning signs (along with posting materials such as easel, A-frame, or similar)
- “Radioactive” Barrier Tape
- Yellow rope to clearly isolate a restricted area if necessary
- Tweezers and tongs for picking up glass or other sharp, dangerous objects
- Pair of robust scissors
- Two or more pairs of safety goggles
- At least two pairs of disposable overshoes
- Two or more disposable lab coats, coveralls and/or aprons
- Two or more pairs of disposable gloves
- Plastic broom or brush for solids (polypropylene)
- Plastic radioactive waste disposal bags
- Universal absorbents such as commercial spill pads, pillows, spill socks, and loose absorbents
- Plastic scoop, dust pan, or shovel. Use plastic (polypropylene) when non-sparking tools are needed.
- Marker pen or chalk
- Cotton swabs in relevant sizes
- Small plastic vials or bags for putting swabs in
- Sheet of address labels and a pencil
- Roll of yellow and black ‘Radioactive Material’ adhesive tape.
- Bleach (if biological agents are used)
- Cardboard box to hold waste bag and spilled debris
- Sealing tape
- Bottle of decontamination solutions relevant to the chemicals in use.
- Hand soap
- Detergent or general cleaners for the final cleanup of the area
- Written contingency procedures for using the kit or for decontamination e.g. from the local safety rules.
- Contamination monitor – suitable to the isotope being used (no need for H3)
The large majority of these contents, in addition to a pocketed and securely fastened kit are available from us here at Lancs Industries.
Be Prepared for a Radioactive Spill
The goal is to never experience a radioactive spill. The reality, however, is that mistakes happen. For this reason, your company’s Radiation Safety Officer should host regular safety meetings, as well as occasional practice drills and simulations, so employees feel prepared to handle an unexpected accident whenever and wherever it arises.
Read, How do You Stop a Radioactive Spill?, for more specific details. Ultimately, the goal is to move quickly and thoroughly through the following 5 Steps, which create the well-known S-W-I-M-S acronym:
- Stop the spill
- Warn others
- Isolate the area and the spill
- Minimize radiation exposure
- Stop ventilation
While these steps don’t have to be done in order, they should all be completed to contain the spill and ensure personal, employee and environmental safety. In fact, it’s worthwhile to take your workplace and risk into consideration, determining an order that makes the most sense for your building, individual labs or work spaces and/or the materials you’re working with.
Your Preparedness Can Save Lives
In most cases, radiation sickness takes place via continuous exposure – even low-grade – for long expanses of time. A single, poorly handled spill that leads to permanent contamination can mean a dangerous outcome for employees or those who spend time in the area.
Do your best to adhere to ALARA guidelines, create a safety culture within your company, and to arm yourself with an adequate radioactive spill kit.
Need help assembling your company’s hazardous or radioactive spill kit? Get in touch with the expert radiation shielding innovators here at Lancs Industries. We have everything you need, plus more, and our designers can work with you to create customized spill kit contents specific to your industry or niche.
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