Incidents related to transport of radiation instruments

Transport of radiation sources occurs worldwide. Transport occurs within Australia (transporting sources from one site or organisation to another) and also from Australia to overseas (such as the export of radiopharmaceuticals). The most common incidents include vehicles carrying the source being involved in a road accident or the source falling from the vehicle carrying the source. On other occasions containers may be damaged in transit and subsequently sources may be dislodged from internal packing and shielding.

Causes

Human error

The human causes of radiation transport accidents are similar to road accidents including:

  • Speed, alcohol, fatigue: like other transport accidents, transport radiation incidents often involve drivers who are fatigue, intoxicated from drugs or alcohol, or are exceeding speed limits.
  • Not following procedures: workers do not follow procedures correctly for securing loads resulting in the source coming loose.
  • Carelessness: shortcutting procedures can result in the source not being secured properly.

Technology factors

The technological causes of transport incidents include:

  • Loose fittings: fittings and apparatus used to secure the radiation source break resulting in the source coming loose.
  • Maintenance: maintenance of the source housing is forgotten or missed, resulting in the housing not functioning as it should.

Organisation factors

Some of the organisational issues include:

  • Inadequate systems: organisations fail to have in place adequate drug and alcohol policies and procedures which ensure safety.
  • Training: organisations do not provide adequate training to workers on the correct use of securing loads on their vehicles.
  • Oversight: organisations do not adequately supervise or monitor the practices workers use to secure sources.