Industrial radiography incidents

Industrial radiography is the use of ionising radiation to view objects in a way that cannot be seen otherwise. It has grown out of engineering, and is a major element of nondestructive testing. It is a method of inspecting materials for hidden flaws by using the ability of short X-rays and gamma rays to penetrate various materials. A form of non-destructive testing, industrial radiography is a method used to check for cracks or flaws in materials (such as steel piping), without damaging the material.

Causes

Human error

  • Not following procedures: operators often fail to use a radiation survey meter to ensure the source has retracted back into the gamma camera which shields the source, resulting in staff receiving a radiation dose.
  • Lack of awareness: the radiation source (the pigtail) is encapsulated in stainless steel. If the pigtail becomes detached, subsequently is left behind in the field, resulting in workers receiving a radiation dose by unknowingly being in contact with the source.
  • Not setting-up properly: workers fail to set up appropriately the material being radiographed, resulting in damage to the radiation source and subsequent radiation.

Technology factors

Technological failures include the following:

  • Wire breaks or fails: the wire that attaches to the source can break or be sheared away resulting in the source being left behind in the field.
  • Shielding not working: the shielding or delivery tube can be damaged in the field and result in radiation escaping and workers receiving a dose.

Organisation factors

Organisational issues include:

  • Training: organisations fail to provide workers appropriate training on how to use the industrial radiography unit properly.
  • Monitoring: organisations provide little oversight or monitoring of staff using the industrial radiography equipment resulting in unsafe practices being adopted.