For a radiation safety officer, an employee’s dosimetry badge showing an unusually high dosage is the start of an extensive investigation. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that employees be exposed to no more than 1,250 mrem of ionizing radiation per quarter, and companies must perform an investigation when employees are in danger of exceeding that dosage.
In most cases, however, the high amount does not reflect the actual amount of radiation to which the employee was exposed. Rather, it’s due to an “accidental” exposure — situations in which the dosimetry badge was near radiation when the employee was not. One example of this is when an employee leaves the badge in checked luggage at the airport, and it is scanned by a computed tomography (CT) machine. This could translate to an inordinately high dose of ionizing radiation, and thereby skew reporting results. The same thing could happen if an employee leaves a dosimetry badge in a briefcase, and the briefcase is in a room with exposure to radiation. Of course, instructing employees about the importance of keeping dosimetry badges on their person at all times could help avoid accidental exposures — but accidents do happen.
When film, TLD or OSL dosimetry badges are used, high readings aren’t detected until the employee turns in the badge during a regular monthly or quarterly interval. If the accidental exposure occurred in the beginning of a new badge cycle, the employee might not remember what happened that particular day to cause the high reading. In that case, it would be hard, if not impossible, to resolve the issue.
However, the Instadose+ dosimetry badge allows you to take digital readings at any time, pinpointing the day when a high exposure has occurred simply by downloading the information to a computer or mobile device. Being able to pinpoint exactly when the accidental exposure took place is a SMARTER way to work and makes it simpler to resolve problems and avoid costly time-consuming audits.