Any company or business requiring employees to work with or around radiation and/or radioactive materials should have a clear Radiation Safety Program in place, and that program is traditionally led by a designated (qualified) Radiation Safety Officer. If your company is registered with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), you are required to have a designated Radiation Safety Officer – and the designation must be in writing.
This designation requires both a certain level of education, knowledge, training and credentials. Different employers and HR department have different guidelines or requirements – with hospitals and universities typically requiring a college degree in a scientific or technical field as well as a number of years of radiation safety training.
Also, only regulatory agencies can “pronounce” you a radiation safety officer. So, no matter how great a job you may have done at your place of employment overseeing RSO-related duties, and even if your boss says you’re the RSO, you’ll need to write a letter to your state’s regulatory agency, requesting official designation. This letter should include and/or attach your diploma, qualifications/certifications, proof of any RSO training you’ve had, work experience/training, etc.
Who is the Radiation Safety Officer?
Depending on the size of your company, the radiation safety officer (RSO) may be a full-time position in and of itself; smaller companies may have a key management person or safety manager take on the responsibilities of an RSO, above and beyond their regular weekday duties and job responsibilities.
Optimally, medium- to large businesses have a radiation safety committee, and the RSO supports that committee in its duties and serves on the committee, often in the capacity of secretary and record keeper.
What Does the RSO Do?
As part of overseeing the company’s radiation safety program and training, a radiation safety officer is responsible for:
- Performing an annual review of the company’s radiation safety program and adherence to ALARA for the year.
- Compiling quarterly reports of occupational/personal worker exposure to radiation for the quarter.
- Putting together a quarterly compilation of radiation levels in both restricted and unrestricted areas, comparing them with previous quarters and ensuring they were at ALARA levels.
- Organize and schedule regular briefings, trainings and educational sessions that instruct employees about radiation safety and the ALARA program(s) put in place.
- Investigate and report on any instances where radiation exposure was over and beyond the maximum acceptable levels.
- Ensure that all actions and/or incidences related to radioactive materials and radiation exposure take place within and under regulatory guidelines at both the federal, state and local levels.
While many of these tasks can be delegated and overseen by the RSO and the Radiation Safety Committee and/or safety management team, the ultimate responsibility and liability rests on the RSO’s shoulders.
Training Required for RSOs
Again, requirements vary – with some companies requiring a PhD in nuclear physics, and others requiring a high school diploma and ample radiation safety training.
There are varying levels of coursework, education and training required to become an RSO. The most basic training and certification includes completing and passing a 40-Hour RSO Short Course. However, the size and complexity of your company’s interactions with radioactive materials dictates how much training and experience are required.
Ultimately, RSO’s lead the education and training (not to mention safety program) at their places of work, and that means having sufficient knowledge and experience to teach and train employees and staff regarding:
- HAZMAT training
- The use of gauges, dosimeters and other tools used to measure radiation exposure
- Quarterly and annual refresher training and courses
- Principles and practices of radiation protection
- The biological effects of radiation and radiation exposure
- Radiation measurement and monitoring
- The proper radiation containment types, shielding products and clothing required for specific tasks and prospective exposure
RSO’s do a tremendous amount of record keeping and safeguarding sensitive files so organizational skills as well as discretion are essential character traits.
How Much do RSOs Make?
There is no once salary fits all answer to the question of how much RSOs make. The larger the employer, the greater your qualifications, the higher your salary. With that being said, work.chron.com cites that RSO’s with PhDs in nuclear engineering can make as much as $180,000 per year, with the average salary hovering right around the $134,000 mark. On the other hand, those with a master’s degree earn around $126,822, and those with a bachelor’s degree earn closer to $124,161.
Then again, if you work for a smaller company and/or your RSO duties are adjunct to your regular responsibilities, you may earn as low as $66,000 or so.
Are you an RSO looking to make your workplace and employees as safe as possible? Contact us here at Lancs Industries to learn more about radiation shielding and protective clothing products.
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