We are often asked a question similar to the following. “Does your Radiation Safety Officer course fulfill the training requirements of my state for becoming an RSO?” In many cases it will, but for reasons that will be explained below, there is no simple answer to this question.
The responsibilities of a Radiation Safety Officer vary enormously from very slight as in the case of a business with one or two sealed sources, to a hospital that uses x-rays and nuclear medicine for treatment of patients. Obviously the training requirements of the latter will be far greater than for the former. The best source of information about training requirements for a particular case will be the regulatory agency that oversees your organization. In general, the regulatory agencies look at education and experience as well as considering short training courses such as ours. Also, the training requirements are not entirely uniform in the different states. We are listing below some of the more common types of radiation safety officers and the typical requirements for each category. Remember though that your own education and experience plays an important role in whether or not your regulatory agency approves you as a radiation safety officer. Because the approval is very much on a case by case basis, we cannot offer an iron clad guarantee that our course will fulfill the requirements of your regulatory agency.
Radiation Safety Officer in industrial, academic, governmental and military settings – Our course is generally accepted and is appropriate training for many types of Radiation Safety Officers in industrial, academic, government and military settings. If your organization uses sealed sources for measurements or if you work in a laboratory setting, or if you regulate or supervise users of radioactive material, our course should be suitable for your needs. It is always a good practice to consult your regulatory agency if you are taking the course to meet regulatory requirements.
Industrial Radiography – Our course is appropriate as training for Radiation Safety Officers in Industrial Radiography but it is not appropriate as initial training for users of Industrial Radiography equipment. This may seem to be conflicting advice but the initial training for radiographers involves training specific to the use of radiography which our course does not have. However the required training for Radiation Safety Officers in Industrial Radiography includes planning a radiation safety program and all the related details which are generally required of all radiation safety programs. The requirements of the federal regulations for various types of Radiation Safety Officers can be seen on the website of the Health Physics Society. The actual federal regulations tend to be written in confusing language but the requirements as restated by the Health Physics Society are more clearly written while at the same time accurately presenting the federal regulations.
Troxler Gauges – Our 5 day course is NOT suitable for initial training for Troxler gauges. The usual state and NRC requirements for Troxler and other brands of gauge users is one day of training specific to that brand of gauge.
Medical Radiation Safety Officers – The initial training requirements for medical radiation safety officers are much more extensive than any 40 hour course, so anyone wishing to become a medical RSO should carefully investigate the requirements of their regulatory agency. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a rather complex set of requirements for medical Radiation Safety Officers and one way of meeting the requirements involves 200 hours of classroom instruction. Ultimately, your regulatory agency has the final word on approval of individuals to become Radiation Safety Officers. The usual procedure is that the organization holding the license must submit the name and qualifications of an incoming RSO for approval by the regulatory agency having authority in that state. This will either be a state agency or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A clear explanation of federal requirements can be found at the link to the Health Physics Society. Keep in mind that many states have their own regulations which may vary slightly from the federal regulations. If your state has its own regulations then you will be required to follow state law rather than federal law. In general though, the state requirements will be almost identical to federal requirements.
We are hoping to offer a 200 hour course in the near future which will be designed to meet a portion of the NRC requirements for medical radiation safety officers.
Government Approval – It is also important to note that the federal government and most states do not review, approve or evaluate radiation safety courses. However, the state of New Mexico does have a approved list and our course has been approved by the State of New Mexico. Perhaps the best way to evaluate a Radiation Safety Officer course is to consider the qualifications of the instructors and also recommendations from those who have previously attended the course. Our instructors are well qualified and have either Certification as a Health Physicist or have an advanced degree in that or a closely related field. Nevada Technical Associates, Inc., has been offering this course for 12 years.
Continuing Education Credits – This course has been granted 32 Continuing Education Units by the American Academy of Health Physics. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene has awarded this course 5 CM points. The American Sociey of Radiologic Technicians (ASRT) has approved this course for 30.50 continuing education credits.
Units from the ASRT may be important to California residents because the state of California accepts these units in its program of continuing education required for renewing permits and certificates in radiologic technology.