Working With Radioactive Materials? Here Are Some Things You Must Know

If you have just started to work in the nuclear industry or have a job that involves radioactive materials in some capacity, you might know that you need to take measures to remain safe but be unsure about what you can do. While you are likely to receive training when you start your job, there are a few things you may want to be aware of before you begin working around radioactive materials.

Take Breaks

The longer you are exposed to radioactive and nuclear materials, the higher your risk of being affected by radiation. To make sure this isn't a problem, make a point of removing yourself from any possible exposure frequently throughout the day. When you do have to work in sensitive areas, do as much preparation as you can before stepping into the sensitive area so that you don't have to be there longer than necessary.

Stay Back

Just as your hand can feel heat from a candle more intensely if it is right on top of the flame, the closer you are to dangerous materials, the more you could be affected by them. That's why it is important to stay as far back as is practical. Your workplace will likely have distance requirements in place that you need to adhere to, so find out about those requirements as soon as you can.

Shield Yourself

Nuclear shielding is something you'll have to familiarize yourself with so you can physically protect yourself when you're exposed to radiation. The type of emissions you need protection from depends on the specific types of radiation being used, and that informs the type of shielding you'll need.

For example, something as simple as a piece of paper can block alpha particles. However, for gamma level radiation and X-rays, you are going to need much higher levels of protection because they can penetrate a number of materials. You may need to wear a lead apron (lead can block some of these rays) while in a sensitive area, or you might need even more serious shielding. Know what kind of radioactive materials you are going to be dealing with so that you can follow the correct shielding protocols in your job, but conduct your own research so that you are sure that you are shielded as much as possible.

With the information laid out above, you remain aware of the kinds of precautions that must be taken when working around radioactive materials. Work closely with your managers to learn more about the specific procedures in place for your place of work.