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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 30

Ionizing Radiation

Instruction:  This chapter is revised to reflect organizational changes.  Requirements for a Radiation Advisory Board and a Radiation Safety Program Manager have been eliminated.  Responsibility for program implementation remains a supervisory responsibility, with policy and operational support provided by health physicist, radiation protection officer, and occupational safety and health staff.  In addition, radon is addressed for field and indoor air.

1.  Purpose.  To specify the minimum requirements for protecting employees and the public from adverse exposure to ionizing radiation.

2.  Scope.

A.  This chapter applies to employees and others covered by workers’ compensation and conduct activities involving the use of radioactive materials and other ionizing radiation sources to include licensed radioactive materials, general licensed devices, X-ray producing devices, and Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM).

B.  This chapter does not alter or supersede the requirements established by licenses issued to the USGS by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  Activities involving radioactive materials under an NRC license, and where such activities are compliant with the licenses and NRC regulations, are in compliance with this policy.

3.  References.

A.  Public Law 91-596, "Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970," Section 19.

B.  Executive Order 12196, "Occupational Safety and Health Programs for Federal Employees."

C.  10 CFR, Chapter I, Parts 1 – 199, Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

D.  29 CFR 1910.1096,  Ionizing Radiation.

E.  Department Manual, Part 485, Chapter 21, Radiation Safety – Ionizing and Non-ionizing Radiation.

F.  American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/Health Physics Society (HPS) N43.2-2001, Radiation Safety for X-ray Diffraction and Fluorescence Analysis Equipment.

G.  ANSI/HPS N43.3-2008, For General Radiation Safety-Installations Using Non-Medical X-Ray and Sealed Gamma-Ray Sources, Energies Up to 10 MeV.

H.  American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Exposure Indices, Ionizing Radiation, (latest edition).

I.  Department of Transportation (DOT) Standards, 49 CFR, Chapter I, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Department of Transportation.

J.  Federal Property Management Regulations, 41 CFR Part 102-80, Safety and Environmental Management.

4.  Definitions.

A.  Ionizing Radiation.  The most energetic form of radiation, capable of removing electrons from atoms (ionization) and damaging the DNA within living cells.  X-rays, gamma rays, and alpha and beta particles are examples of ionizing radiation.

B.  General Licensed Materials.  Byproduct materials subject to the NRC regulations that are contained in devices which have been manufactured or initially transferred and labeled in accordance with the specifications contained in a specific license.  General licensed materials are often used to detect, measure, gauge, or control the thickness, density, level, or chemical composition of various items.  Examples of such devices are gas chromatographs (detector cells), density gauges, fill-level gauges, and static elimination devices.

C.  Radon.  A naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soils, rock, and water throughout the U.S.  Exposure to radon and its decay products is associated with an increase in the incidence of lung cancer among the general population.  Radon is a natural decay product of uranium and thorium.  The isotope of interest is Radon-222 and its decay products.

D.  Radiation Protection Officer.  Designated cost center employee who oversees the use of radioactive material and devices that produce ionizing radiation.

E.  Radiation Safety Officer.  Person who oversees the NRC broad scope or other specific licenses issued to the USGS and implements or ensures implementation of license requirements in accordance with NRC regulations, NUREG-1556, and established procedures.

F.  Radiation Sources.  Radioactive materials or devices that produce ionizing radiation.  These sources include, but are not limited to, byproduct materials and X-ray producing devices.

G.  Radioactive Material.  Any material which emits, by spontaneous nuclear disintegration, ionizing radiation in the form of particulate or electromagnetic emanations.

H.  Restricted Area.  An area or room where access is controlled to protect an individual from exposure to radiation or radioactive materials.

I.  Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials.  Natural materials containing radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium and their decay products.  A potential health concern is when these natural materials or their decay products are inhaled as dust (e.g., radon and its decay products).  NORM is also a hazard when it is concentrated as a result of human activity such as waste streams generated by processes such as oil and gas production, mining, mineral processing, or water treatment, and various other processes which may increase the concentration and radioactivity above that found naturally; also called Technologically Enhanced NORM.

J.  X-rays.  Penetrating electromagnetic radiation (photons) having a wavelength that is much shorter than that of visible light.  These rays are usually produced by excitation of the electron field around certain nuclei.

K.  Working Level Month.  An exposure to any combination of short-lived radon daughters in one liter of air that will result in the ultimate emission of 1.3 x 105 mega-electron volts (MeV) of potential alpha particle energy for 170 hours.

5.  Requirements

A.  USGS shall protect employees and the public against exposures to ionizing radiation and shall comply with the appropriate standards and regulations.

B.  Every reasonable effort shall be made to maintain exposures to employees and to the public “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA) and at no time shall exceed the limits set by 10 CFR 20 and 29 CFR 1910.1096.

C.  Do not assign employees under the age of 18 to radiological duties that expose them to ionizing radiation; areas or sites where radiological work is conducted; or, where radioactive materials are stored.

D.  Conducting activities or possessing radioactive materials under a license issued by the NRC shall be performed in accordance with the license requirements and applicable NRC regulations.

E.  The use and possession of radiation sources not requiring NRC licensing shall be in accordance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1096 and ANSI standards.

F.  The USGS shall develop, document, and implement a radiation protection program that governs the use and exposure to ionizing radiation.  The radiation protection program shall include the following, at a minimum:

(1)  Establish a process that provides accountability and control of radiation sources through procurement, use, storage, and final disposition.  This includes an annual physical inventory of radiation sources or more often when specified by governing regulations and established procedures.

(2)  To the extent practical, use of radiological controls and practices, such as shielding ionizing radiation sources and equipment, should have procedures implemented to maintain exposures to ALARA, and should not exceed applicable dose limits in 10 CFR 20 and 29 CFR 1910.1096.
(3)  Conduct surveys and monitoring to determine the magnitude and extent of radiation levels, concentrations, quantities of radioactive material, and potential radiological hazards.  Perform leak testing of sealed sources, X-ray producing devices, and other radiation-producing equipment housing radioactive materials or generating ionizing radiation.

(4)  Evaluate ionizing radiation exposures to individual employees and members of the public where required.

(5)  Post restricted areas or rooms with the appropriate radiation caution or danger signage bearing the standard radiation symbol (e.g., 3-bladed, magenta on yellow background, black on white background, or black on yellow background) and prevent unauthorized access.

(6)  Label container with the appropriate radiation caution or danger signage in which radioactive materials are transported, stored, or used, and maintain appropriate manufacturer’s labels on radiation producing devices.

(7)  Establish emergency and immediate evacuation procedures.

(8)  Transport radioactive materials in accordance with the appropriate DOT regulations and conduct radiation surveys, as needed, on packages containing radioactive materials prior to shipping and accepting receipt within the regulated time frame.  Transport of licensed radioactive material shall be coordinated through the Radiation Safety Officer.

(9)  Provide appropriate and effective training to employees and individuals who are potentially exposed to ionizing radiation.  Training shall be provided at the time of initial assignment and repeated if there is a change in operational procedure or exposure.

(10)  Properly secure and store radioactive materials.

(11)  Radioactive waste shall be managed and disposed of in accordance with applicable regulations.

(12)  Repair, maintenance, and alignment of X-ray producing devices, equipment housing NRC general licensed materials, and other ionizing radiation producing and measuring equipment shall be conducted by a trained and qualified individual of the manufacturer or an individual approved by the Radiation Safety Officer.

(13)  Make appropriate notification and reporting of radiation incidences and over exposures to the Radiation Safety Officer who will report to the appropriate governing authority.  In addition, report all radiation incidents to the supervisor immediately and complete an accident report in the Safety Management Information System (SMIS).  Incidents should include near misses, first aid, or medical treatment.

(14)  Maintain records of, including but not limited to, surveys, exposures, training, public dose, leak testing, maintenance, and audits.
(15)  Employees shall be notified of their exposure in accordance with applicable regulations or standards.   

(16)  Establish a declared pregnant worker program that initiates appropriate protective actions against exposure to ionizing radiation once a pregnancy is voluntarily declared in writing to management.

(17)  Assess local compliance with program requirements annually.

(18)  Assess radiation safety program compliance every 3 years in conjunction with the overall occupational safety and health program evaluations. 

(19)  External program assessments for licensed activities shall be accomplished by the Radiation Safety Officer and the NRC in accordance with license requirements.

G.  Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials.

(1)  Evaluate potential exposures for employees involved in handling and storing NORM and conducting activities at sites where exposures are expected to be above background radiation levels (e.g., hot-rock storage rooms) and radon and gamma radiation from working in uranium mines or uranium tailing sites. 

(2)  Implement procedures to ensure exposures do not exceed limits in 29 CFR 1910.1096.

(3)  Designate and post “airborne radioactivity area” signage for locations where airborne concentrations of radioactive materials exceed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) airborne limits or where personal exposures exceed 25 percent of the airborne limits.

(4)  Post appropriate signage on rooms and storage areas with radioactive materials.

(5)  Appropriately label containers containing naturally occurring uranium or thorium exceeding quantities defined in 29 CFR 1910.1096(e)(6)(ii).

(6)  Use personal protective equipment when required by a job hazard analysis.

(7)  Practice good housekeeping where NORM is handled or stored.  Practice good personal hygiene when handling NORM. 

(8)  Provide training to employees working with NORM at time of initial assignment.

(9)  Inform the radiation safety officer of procedures, quantity of material, products from the procedure, and storage or final disposition when processing NORM (e.g., grinding, leaching, and chemical treatments).  Processed NORM may be required to have a permit under a NRC specific license.

(10)  Requirements for Radon in Field Work.

(a)  In field locations where airborne radon concentrations could potentially be enhanced above background levels, employees and volunteers shall not be exposed above four working level months per year.  (This equates to a daily average airborne concentration of 30 pCi/L.)  Such locations may include, but are not limited to, caves, uranium mines, uranium tailing sites, and ground-level or below-ground vaults.  Employees under the age of 18 shall not be assigned to enter field sites where radon levels are expected to be above background.  Every reasonable effort shall be made to maintain radon exposures to employees “as low as reasonably achievable.”  

(b)  Field structures with airborne concentrations of radon that are at or exceed 25 pCi/L shall be posted as an “airborne radioactivity area” and employee exposures shall be evaluated.

(11)  Requirements for Radon in Indoor Environments.  

(a)  For workplace occupancies (e.g., administrative buildings) measured airborne concentrations of radon shall be maintained below 25 pCi/L.

(b)  Measured concentrations in residential, day-care, or school facilities shall be maintained below 4 pCi/L.

(c)  Residential and non-residential occupancies shall be initially tested for radon and mitigated where mitigation action levels are reached or exceeded in accordance with General Services Administration Public Buildings Service (PBS) Radon Policy and Procedure, PBS P 5940.2.

(d)  Employees under the age of 18 shall not be exposed to indoor air radon concentrations at or in excess of 3 pCi/L as a time weighted average calculated over a 40-hour work week, in accordance with OSHA’s ionizing radiation standard, 29 CFR 1910.1090.  Where the employee’s exposure is calculated at or in excess of 3 pCi/L, the area shall be mitigated, the employee’s access to the area shall be limited, or the employee shall be relocated to lower the employee’s exposure below the OSHA standard.

6.  Responsibilities

A.  Director.  Directs radiation protection program activities through the Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO).

B.  Associate Directors/Regional Directors.

(1)  Ensure that financial resources are provided for the implementation of the ionizing radiation protection program and for compliance with national consensus standards under their purview.

(2)  Hold managers and supervisors accountable for ensuring radiological activities in their region are conducted in accordance with NRC licenses, applicable regulations, and established procedures.

(3)  Ensure that program deficiencies are abated in a timely manner.

C. Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

(1)Exercises the authority of the Director to establish, develop, direct, and manage an effectiveradiation protection program.

(2)  Assigns radiation protection program authority to the Chief, Office of Management Services, for program management and administration.

(3)  Provides appropriate personnel and budgetary resources to establish and maintain a bureauwide radiation protection program.

D.  Chief, Office of Management Services.

(1)  Assigns radiation safety program responsibilities to the Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager for management and administration.

(2)  Ensures that staff has sufficient authority, resources, and qualifications to effectively support radiation safety program needs.

E.  Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.

(1)  Develops national policies and guidance on the ionizing radiation protection program.

(2)  Oversees implementation of the ionizing radiation protection program.

(3)  Acts as liaison to the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Occupational Safety and Health Council and represents USGS ionizing radiation safety interests to DOI and OSHA.

(4)  Advises and supports the Chief, Office of Management Services and the DASHO on radiation safety program responsibilities.

(5)  Provides support, technical assistance, and direction in carrying out program requirements.

(6)  Oversees ionizing radiation safety program compliance and implementation and provides management with recommendations for program improvement.

F.  Industrial Hygienist(s).  Provide technical ionizing radiation support and guidance to management and safety staff for X-ray producing devices, NORM, and other OSHA regulated ionizing radiation.

G.  Health Physicist.

(1)  Appointed as Radiation Safety Officer for the NRC broad scope licenses.

(2)  Assists in implementing license requirements in accordance with NRC regulations, NUREG-1556, and established procedures.

(3)  Provides technical oversight and support for NRC general licensed materials. 

(4)  Audits broad scope license and permittee activities in accordance with NRC license requirements.

(5)  Ensures that operational reviews (self-audits) are conducted and documented by local permittees within the Inspection and Abatement System (IAS) and tracks abatement actions through closure.

(6)  Coordinates with the management representative and local supervisors to ensure identified audit deficiencies related to respective broad scope license activities are appropriately addressed and abated.

(7)  Serves as a member on the Radiation Safety Committee.

(8)  Ensures the conduct of training to meet license and permit requirements.

(9)  Provides technical oversight and support for NRC general licensed materials. 

(10)  Assesses NRC licensed ionizing radiation safety program compliance and implementation.

(11)  Makes appropriate notification and reporting of radiation incidences and overexposures to the appropriate governing authority.

H.  Regional Safety Managers.

(1)  Assist local science center management and collateral duty safety program coordinators in implementing local radiation safety programs. 

(2)  Ensure that local ionizing radiation safety program self-audits are conducted and documented within the IAS and track abatement actions through closure.

(3)  Assess local compliance of radiation safety program by conducting external audits of local cost centers based on scope of activities and risk.  Document audits within the IAS and track abatement actions through closure.

(4)  Occupational Safety and Health Management Branch National Programs Section staff shall provide services detailed in H (1-3) above for Associate Directors.

I.  Reactor Administrator.

(1)  Ensures that the reactor supervisor and reactor staff is provided with the authority and resources necessary for successful development, implementation, and continued improvement of the reactor radiation safety program.

(2)  Ensures that senior management is routinely apprised of issues related to the implementation of the reactor’s radiation safety program.

J.  Reactor Supervisor.  Establishes and implements the radiation safety program for the Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics (TRIGA) reactor in accordance with NRC regulations and established procedures.

K.  Reactor Health Physicist.  Ensures the day-to-day implementation of the radiation safety program of the TRIGA reactor in accordance with NRC regulations, established procedures, and license.

L.  Science Center Directors, Cost Center Directors and Project Chiefs.

(1)  Ensure that radiological activities performed by center personnel are adequately funded to ensure the successful development, implementation and continued improvement of the radiation safety program under their supervision.

(2)  Ensure that radiological activities under their supervision are carried out in accordance with radiation safety policies and procedures.

(3)  Ensure that findings and deficiencies of radiological activities under their supervision are addressed and resolved in a timely manner.

(4)  Ensure that annual operational self-audits are conducted of radiological activities under their supervision and that findings are documented in the IAS.

M.  Local Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators/Radiation Protection Officers.  Assist local management and employees in providing technical oversight and support for NRC general licensed materials and ionizing radiation sources not regulated under a specific NRC license, including but not limited to, X-ray producing devices and NORM. 

N.  Principal User, Permit Holder, and Authorized User of NRC-Licensed Material.  Conducts radiological activities in accordance with the requirements of the radioisotope use permit, NRC regulations, and established procedures.

O.  Employees.

(1)  Use and handle X-ray producing devices, NRC general licensed materials, and NORM in accordance with policies and established procedures including practices to maintain exposures ALARA.

(2)  Wear personal monitoring devices when required.

(3)  Report exposure incidents, spills, or releases to supervisors to investigate.

(4)  Complete appropriate radiation protection training prior to performing activities involving X-ray producing devices, NRC general licensed materials, and NORM.

(5)  Report all radiation incidents the supervisor immediately and complete an accident report in the SMIS.  Incidents should include near misses and first aid or medical treatment.  For incidents involving NRC licensed materials, the Radiation Safety Officer shall be notified.

/s/ Jose R. Aragon                                                                              December 11, 2015

Jose R. Aragon                                                                                               Date
Associate Director for Administration


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Last modification: 15-Dec-2015@09:49 (kk)