Handling Radioactive Materials Safely

Radiation Safety Training

Training Requirements

The Risk Management and Safety (RMS) Radiation Safety Program provides a radiation protection program in accordance with the rules, regulations, licenses, and permits issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the safe use of radioactive materials and radiation producing equipment at Auburn University. Radiation safety training is required for all personnel using radioactive materials or radiation producing equipment at the university. Training for radiation workers includes instruction in the basic principles of radiation protection and the applicable policies, procedures, and regulatory requirements. Even if you've attended radiation safety training at other institutions, you're required to complete Auburn University training. If you're not sure what training you should complete, contact the RSO. Training is conducted in two parts, must be done consecutively, and you will be expected to submit a radiation safety training quiz. The first part of training is conducted by the RSO and can be scheduled on an individual or group basis. The second part of training is referred to as 'on-the-job' or 'hands-on' training where you and your PI will complete a certificate of training emphasizing on lab specific protocols and safety, security of radioactive materials and emergency procedures.

Radiation Safety Training Scheduling & Forms:

Schedule Radiation Safety Training with RSO

Certificate of Training for Use of Radioactive Materials

New Radiation Worker Orientation and Information Receipt Form


Radiation Safety Publications

Safety Manual and Handbook

This section contains the official text of the Auburn University Radiation Safety Manual. The safety manual is the official policy document of Auburn University for the use of radioactive materials and radiation-producing machines. It is provided to the ADPH as part of the University's application for a license to possess and use radioactive materials and it reflects the requirements of relevant and state regulations. The Safety Manual is made accessible to radioactive materials users as a resource. It is provided to supplement your radiation safety knowledge but does not replace the required radiation safety training which all radiation workers must receive.

Radiation Safety Policy and Procedures:

Auburn University Radiation Safety Manual

Radiological Safety Reference Handbook


Radiation Safety Laboratory Guidelines

Signs and Labeling

Radiation Safety requests that you label your radioisotope use rooms (laboratories) with Caution Radioactive Material signs, authorized personnel notice, and Auburn University emergency contacts notice. Rooms that are used or serve as storage for radioactive materials must be properly labeled. Resources are provided in this section to help with the sign and labeling requirements. The Caution Radioactive Material signs must be printed on yellow paper and the contact information used must be up-to-date. Any container (may include lock box, cabinet, fridge) of radioactive material or piece of equipment used in RAM work must be labeled, regardless of the level of radioactivity. It is advised to used Radioactive or Radioactive Material tape and each lab is responsible for maintaining its own supply of Radioactive Material tape. Labeling contaminated items and containers of radioactive material is an important tool for contamination control and is a courtesy to other laboratory personnel. Rooms that are labeled as radioisotope use rooms have a very strict rule with regard to 'No Eating or Drinking.' When you see a Caution Radioactive Material sign on a door, you'll know that you are never permitted to eat or drink in that room. Storage of food, beverages, or medicines in refrigerators, freezers or cold-rooms where radioactive materials are used or stored are strictly forbidden. You may store your food, water bottles, beverages, medicines, coffee mugs, eating utensils, etc. in either a closed area or an area designated by your PI. You are not permitted to have these items on top of your desk or any other work surface. Lastly, according to the Alabama Administrative Code, the ADPH has established standards for your protection against radiation hazards. One aspect of these established standards includes the posting of notices. ADPH notices must be posted where employees are employed in activities licensed or registered, pursuant to rules 420-3-26.

Radiation Safety Signs, Labels & Notices:

Caution Radioactive Material - must be printed on yellow paper

No Food or Drink

Notice to Employees (ADPH Form X)

Radiological Emergency Assistance Contacts (ADPH Radiation Control Contacts) - For Year 2020. Sign must be printed on NEON YELLOW PAPER. 

Notice - Authorized Personnel Only (Link to Create Door Sign in BIORaft)

Auburn University Emergency Contacts


Radioactive Waste

All radioactive waste shall be separated from non-radioactive waste. Under no circumstances is it permissible to dispose of any radioactive material into the non-radioactive trash or into any drains. All radioactive waste are deemed controlled waste and should be placed in the designated containers. Such waste must be completely labeled at all times, from the time it is deposited into a container until final disposal. Records of radioactive waste disposal must be maintained by the university for ADPH review. Radiation Safety supplies the solid and liquid waste containers upon request. Please contact our safety technician for disposal containers. It is the responsibility of the laboratory to supply secondary containers, such as a plastic bus tray, to prevent the waste from leaking or contaminating the surfaces. Laboratories must supply their own shielding for waste that may cause external exposures to workers in the area. Please consult with radiation safety for shielding (if necessary) recommendations. Waste disposal containers should have a designated location in the laboratory. Lab personnel should avoid moving the waste disposal containers to minimize any possibility of contamination. With respect to broken glass waste, this poses a unique hazard and should only be disposed of in designated broken glass containers. Glassware and sharps that were involved in RAM experiments and require disposal must be placed in a designated container. The container must be sturdy, properly lined and in good condition. At a minimum the RAM glassware and sharps container should be labeled with the 'caution - radiation' sign as well as a 'caution - waste laboratory glassware' or 'caution - waste laboratory sharps' sign. To issue a waste pickup you must completely fill out the waste disposal form (Appendix G - Radiation Safety Manual) provided and place a copy on the waste container. An electronic copy should also be submitted to radiation safety to inform us of type of waste, isotope, lab room, and date of pick-up. Please do not overfill the fiberboard drums and do not place regular (non-radioactive) trash in the bins.

Radiation Safety Waste Disposal Guidelines & Forms:

Radioactive Waste Disposal Form

Radiation Waste Disposal Matrix

Spills & Incidents

Problems involving radioactive materials, such as spills or personal contamination, do not typically create emergencies. Generally such incidents can be readily handled with laboratory or other University resources instead of calling non-University emergency responders. A situation involving radioactive materials is only an emergency if it also involves fire, explosion, or serious injury.

For an emergency (Remember that an emergency only exists if there's fire, explosion or the risk of serious injury)

  1. Call Campus Safety and Security first. Call 911 from a campus phone

  2. During normal working hours, also call Radiation Safety at 4-6238

  3. Also contact any Laboratory or Departmental Emergency contacts listed on the Emergency Information poster found on or near the entrance to the laboratory

A Minor Spill is any incident that involves all of the following criteria:

  1. Less than 10 micro-curies of radioactivity has been spilled.

  2. Contamination is limited to a small area of no more than 2-3 square feet.

  3. There is no clothing or skin contamination.

  4. You are certain that you can manage the surveys and decontamination on your own without assistance.

A Major Spill is any incident that is not a Minor Spill and includes the discovery of contamination in unexpected places or in many places.

  1. Notification: Notify everyone in the lab or possibly in the vicinity of the lab, if it seems warranted. Please call Radiation Safety or Campus Safety and Security.

  2. Personnel Protection: Assess your own condition and determine whether you need to decontaminate yourself or to remove contaminated clothing.

  3. Control Access & Limit the Spread of Contamination: Block off the area so that bystanders don't enter. Assemble people who were in the lab at the time of the incident in a place near enough to the contaminated area to minimize the spread of contamination but far enough to prevent the continued spread of contamination.

  4. Decontamination: The effort to decontaminate the area is the responsibility of the Authorized User and lab staff, although Radiation Safety may assist to plan the effort and assist you with the clean-up.

RMS News and Announcements


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