There are many factors to consider when establishing an area to house machines emitting ionizing radiation. These top three design features will help ensure a safer environment.
- Consider creating a maze.One way to minimize radiation dose near the entrance of a room is to use a passageway with a series of bends — a maze. The maze ensures that radiation can only leave the room after being significantly scattered due to the presence of several walls. Additionally, if a person happens to enter the room during a treatment or procedure, he or she is mostly shielded from the radiation.
- Don’t forget warning signs.The International Atomic Energy Agency requires that all facilities using radiation display warning signs at all entrances and at other points in the facilities. It can be a static or illuminated warning sign or a combination of the two. Illuminated warning signs can have two or three stages — in a two-stage sign, the first stage turns on when there is power to the machine, and the second stage turns on when the beam is In a three-stage unit, the first stage turns on when there is power to the machine, stage two is lit when the treatment unit is programmed to deliver a radiation beam, and stage three is lighted when the beam is turned on. These signs will also serve as a visual reminder for staff to wear a dosimeter badge before entering the area.
- Make sure the operator can view the patient at all times.It’s important to stay in contact with the patient during the use of x-rays. Observing the patients can be accomplished by using a camera system installed in the facility or through a lead shield window.
Any good radiation safety program starts with a well-designed facility. This is the foundation to build upon for other safety measures, including proper shielding and dosimetry badges for staff.