Radiation safety can be compared to road transport safety. Although both are very important and are in dire need of being taken care of, the way in which they are dealt with can be quite concerning.

Today, is Radiation safety taken seriously by the technicians performing the work? Are just the technicians to blame? Or could it be NDT companies or perhaps even the customer?

Let’s look at some possible reasons –

  • Money It is suspected that more and more NDT companies are pressurised by their clients to reduce prices to obtain Radiographic Testing (RT) contracts. Due to this, NDT companies could be tempted to use younger and less experienced workers. A lot of end users are still paying for NDT services, the same as what they were paying 5 years ago.
  • Time NDT is usually the last job that that needs to be done during a project. Insufficient planning can lead to NDT companies being given limited time to complete their inspections. One of the easiest ways of cutting time during RT is to “force” technicians to work unsafe.
  • Source Strength Another way of saving time is to use stronger isotopes. Bigger source strengths equal shorter exposure times. It seems that some NDT users become satisfied when >30 Curies of Ir192 is used but are not willing to pay for the second qualified person that is required by legislation to be involved when the >30 Curies of Ir192 is used.
  • Equipment Another direct way of possibly cutting radiographic testing costs is to turn a blind eye to safety. A lot of individuals that request RT could be tempted to issue permits that enable their RT appear to look good on paper but do they actually enquire and confirm as to whether the technicians have brought all of their radiation surveying equipment with them to site?
  • Work Space Due to high production rates, RT technicians often find themselves required to operate in cramped work areas. It is fairly usual for these areas to be very near to where welding, heat treatment activities etc. are being carried out.

As road safety has become the responsibility of everyone, so has radiation safety. We all have a role to play and to remain pointing fingers at and blaming each other is not going to make this problem go away.

Hannes Barnard

ANDTC

Hannes Barnard