Frequently Asked Questions

Radiation Safety - Administrative

When are radioactive material inventories due and when are they sent out?

The Radiation Control and Safety Program (RCSP) requires each AU to review their unsealed radioactive material (RAM) and sealed source inventories quarterly. Unsealed RAM inventories are mailed by the first day of each calendar quarter (i.e, January 1, April l, July 1, October 1). Unsealed RAM inventories must be reviewed and submitted back to the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf) by the 15th of the month (i.e,. January 15, April 15, July 15, October 15). If no unsealed RAM is in possession, the AU must still submit an initial zero unsealed RAM inventory, but is not required to submit subsequent periodic zero unsealed RAM inventories. Sealed source inventories are mailed by the first day of the second month of each calendar quarter (i.e., February 1, May 1, August 1, November 1). Sealed source inventories must be reviewed and submitted back to the RSOf by the 15th of the month (i.e., February 15, May 15, August 15, November 15).


Is an Authorized User required to submit a quarterly RAM inventory even if they have no RAM in their inventory?

If no unsealed RAM is in possession, the AU must still submit an initial zero unsealed RAM inventory, but is not required to submit subsequent periodic zero unsealed RAM inventories. Unsealed inventory due dates are January 15, April 15, July 15 and October 15.


What paperwork is required to change the backup authorized user (AU) on a radioactive material authorization?

Use RS Form 6 to add or remove a backup AU from an authorization (note: the Radiation Control and Safety Program (RCSP) limits the number of backup AUs per authorization to two). Complete the top section indicating an amendment to the authorization and sections 1, 10, and 11. In section 10 only list the backup AU(s) to be added on the lines provided. Note any backup AU to be deleted in the margin. In section 11, the Department/Division Chair signature must be included. Completed forms may be hand-delivered, mailed (ML 0591) or faxed (558-9905) to the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf). Most backup AU changes are completed within two working days.


How do I request the commissioning of a radioactive material (RAM) use room?

Complete sections 1, 5, and 11 of RS form 6 (Application for Non Human use of Radioactive Materials) and submit to the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf). Ensure section 5 only lists rooms being added and that the Department Chair signs section 11. The AU manual requires submission 30 days or more prior to the actual use of RAM in the room. If the room is needed for RAM use sooner, e-mail, call (558-4110) or visit the Radiation Safety Office to discuss your need for an expedited commissioning.


What does the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf) do when a request for a room commissioning is received?

Upon receipt and approval of the request, the RSOf staff will perform an evaluation of the room. If the room is currently a radioactive material (RAM) use laboratory, the evaluation will include a survey of the room for radioactive material contamination. If the room is not currently a RAM use room, regulatory notices and labels will be posted at entrances. When the evaluation is completed, RAM use may commence. After all paperwork is processed, the RSOf will mail, via campus mail, an amended authorization to the AU. Added room(s) and the room(s) approved use(s) will be listed in bold font.


How long is an Authorized User required to maintain laboratory specific training

Radiation Safety rules require  that Radiation Worker training conducted by the AU or CP be maintained for at least five years after the person leaves.


Is the Authorized User required to post the inspection results of the last audit and does this change if there were no non-compliances during the audit?

No. Authorized Users must assure and document that all radiation workers under the authorization were informed of any non-compliances or area of concern observed under their authorization. This may be accomplished by posting the results, distributing the results through applicable or discussing at a meeting. If the audit report indicated no indications of deficiencies the report need not be posted.


Should a copy of the lab-specific training form be sent to the RSOf?

Yes. The distribution list for the generic lab-specific training form DOCUMENTATION OF AU LAB SPECIFIC RADIATION WORKER TRAINING/INTERVIEW (RS FORM 2.1) is: Original retained by the AU and copies to the radiation worker and the RSOf. The same distribution list should be followed even if the AU uses a different form of documentation for lab-specific training. During RSOf audits, the Radiation Safety Specialist reviews the AU's training records to ensure lab-specific training is documented for each radiation worker under the authorization. If a particular individual's record is missing, no non-compliance is issued if a copy is available in the RSOf.


Radiation Safety - General

May I lick my fingers while turning book pages in a radioactive material (RAM) use approved room?

Licking your fingers in an area where hazardous material, such as RAM, may be present is considered an unsafe act similar to eating. It is an unsafe act because it could result in a hazardous substance entering the body.


May I take food/drink through a radioactive material (RAM) use room to get to a non-RAM room?

You may transport food and/or drink through a RAM use laboratory as long as the food and/or drink is in a closed container to prevent contamination during transport. During transportation you should not stop.


Is facial lotion application allowed in a RAM use room?

Applying facial lotion is considered application of cosmetics which is prohibited in a RAM use approved room. If the lotion or your hands are contaminated, the contamination could be spread to the skin of your face or worse, become internalized through the mouth, nose, or eyes.


Should I notify the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf) when I spill RAM onto absorbent paper located within RAM work area on the bench top?

You must notify the RSOf of a spill in any RAM work area if you were using > 100 uCi of activity at the time of the spill or if any of the RAM is spread outside the work area.


If an individual washes contamination off their hands, should the liquid be collected as radioactive waste or be disposed of directly into the sink drain?

The liquid may be disposed of directly into the sink drain. The most important issue is to remove the contamination quickly. The amount of activity involved should be very small. The RSOf practices ALARA in all areas, including sewer disposal, which means normal sewer disposal amounts are well below regulatory limits. The small amount of activity from a skin contamination incident would not have a significant impact.


May an individual wear shorts and open toed shoes in a RAM use laboratory if they are not actually handling RAM?

Yes. Individuals who are not acutally working with RAM may be present in a RAM use laboratory without wearing proper protection to prevent skin contamination. The program requirement for working with RAM is to wear at least a lab coat and gloves. The function of PPE is to prevent skin and internal contamination of the individual wearing the PPE. The minimum requirement assumes the individual is also wearing shoes that cover the feet and appropriate clothing that covers the skin of the legs. Section 9 of the AU Manual goes into detail concerning the use of PPE and should be reviewed occasionally.


Radiation Safety - RAM Waste

Why must my radioactive waste be ready for pickup before I submit the request?

The Radiation Safety Office (RSOf) policy is to pickup radioactive waste within two working days of submission of a waste pickup request. Depending on the location and number of waste pickup requests received, a waste pickup could occur very quickly after the request is made (e.g., within an hour,) but always will occur within two working days after the request is made.


Radiation Safety - Surveys

How close together and/or how far apart may a “monthly” surveys be performed?

The RCSP program requires all areas where unsealed RAM is used have the area, along with equipment used for RAM procedures, surveyed for contamination at least monthly.  To meet this monthly frequency, the surveys must be performed each month at about the same time. Surveys performed less than 23 days or more than 37 days apart (i.e., 30 days + 1 week) do not meet the frequency of “monthly”.


Does all equipment in a RAM use laboratory have to be surveyed by the RSOf prior to release from the laboratory for non-RAM use?

No. Equipment labeled as being radioactive should always be surveyed by the RSOf prior to being released. Unlabeled equipment that is thought to have never been used for RAM work would not require a release survey by the RSOf; however, if there is any doubt about a piece of equipment, the RSOf should be called to perform a release survey.


Is a survey of the work area required prior to using RAM?

No. However, it is recommended that a pre-work survey be performed to ensure there is no contamination present that could confuse the situation later when a survey is performed during or at the end of the experiment. If there is more than one radiation worker using the area, it is strongly recommended a pre-work survey be performed to ensure the last person using the area performed an adequate end of work survey.


Radiation Safety - Training

What training must I complete before handling radioactive materials?

Before handling radioactive material under the University of Cincinnati Radiation Control and Safety Program (RCSP) individuals must complete site specific training provided by the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf). Also, the individual must complete lab-specific training provided by the authorized user(s).

Site-specific training provided by the RSOf consists of two courses called “Basic” and “Advanced”. Experienced users of radioactive material may attempt to pass out of the “Basic” course by taking the “Challenge Test". After completing or passing out of the “Basic” course, all individuals must attend the “Advanced” course. The “Advanced” course covers policies and procedures under the RCSP. A schedule of courses is available on the RSOf website at Radiation Safety.


What training do I need before I may begin to use an x-ray machine?

Prior to operating an x-ray machine or other radiation generating equipment (RGE), an individual must complete radiation safety training to at least the awareness level, along with area-specific and machine-specific training. The 9.5 minute awareness level (ancillary worker) training video may be viewed to meet the awareness level training. The video is available for viewing on the Radiation Safety Office website. Area-specific and machine-specific training is obtained through the contact person for the x-ray machine. The RSOf is available to provide assistance in determining the applicable contact person. (You may want to also review the question regarding training for fluoroscopic x-ray equipment.)


What special training is required before working with a fluoroscopic x-ray unit?

Like all radiation generating equipment an individual must complete awareness level radiation safety training, area-specific and machine-specific training prior to operating a fluoroscopy unit. By regulation the machine-specific training for a fluoroscopic unit must include specific fluoroscopy training. The Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) selected a fluoroscopy training manual and exam series entitled, “Minimizing Risks From Fluoroscopic X-rays” that meets the regulatory requirement. Individuals using fluoroscopy equipment outside a hospital should contact the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf) to obtain a copy of the fluoroscopy training manual and exam. For hospital fluoroscopic equipment, contact the hospital’s Radiology Department


What training is required before an individual may care for a radiation therapy patient under radiation precautions?

Individuals who provide physical care for radiation therapy patients under radiation precautions are called Health Care radiation workers. An individual must become certified as a Health Care radiation worker prior to providing physical care for a radiation therapy patient under radiation precautions. To become a Health Care radiation worker an individual must attend an Initial Health Care Worker Certification training session. A schedule of courses is available on the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf) website at Radiation Safety.


What is the “Challenge Test” and how do I schedule it?

The “Challenge Test” is a 25 question multiple choice exam that is used as a mechanism to test out of the “Basic” course. The exam takes 15-30 minutes on average to complete. A score of 88% or higher is required to pass. The “Challenge Test” may only be taken once; therefore, it is recommended that individuals review the Radiation Worker (training) Manual prior to taking the “Challenge Test”. The “Challenge Test” may be taken between 8-4:30 in the Radiation Safety Office (RSOf) on a walk-in basis. 


How long are the radiation safety training courses?

The “Basic” and “Advanced” courses for radioactive material (RAM) radiation workers are approximately three hours each.

All retraining courses are approximately one hour.

The “Initial Health Care Worker Certification” course is approximately three hours.


I took radiation safety training at another institution. Do I have to take training at the University of Cincinnati before I can begin to use radioactive materials (RAM)?

Yes. Even if you attended training or have experience using radioactive materials (RAM) at another institution you are still required to attend site-specific training at the University of Cincinnati before you may handle radioactive materials under the University of Cincinnati Radiation Control and Safety Program (RCSP).


If an individual attended a radiation safety retraining class in December 2013 to satisfy the training requirement for 2013, may the individual attend another retraining class in January of 2014 to satisfy the training requirement for 2014?

Yes. RAM radiation workers must attend training, once each calendar year, as outlined in UC's Ohio Department of Health license of broad scope. Therefore, someone attending in December and then the immediately following January could conceivably meet their training requirement for two years in a matter of a week. However, it is recommended the training sessions be separated by at least several months with the ideal situation being 12 months plus or minus one month.



Is there an online RAM retraining class?

Yes. The online RAM retraining class can be accessed from the Radiation Safety website. Select: Training. Select: Radiation Safety Annual Retraining for RAM Radiation Workers. Select: Compliance Training or Competency Testing. Select: Radiation Safety Training.  Log in or create an account. Select: Compliance Home. Select: Radiation Safety Training. Select: Radiation Safety Annual Retraining for RAM Radiation Workers.


Radiation Safety

Radiation Safety Office:
(513) 558-4110 Phone
(513) 558-9905 Fax
0591 Mail location

Terry Lindley, CHP, MRHP, CNMT
Radiation Safety Officer

Debbie Kirkpatrick
Program Manager

For emergencies outside normal working hours (8:00 am - 4:30 pm)
Contact the on-call technician by digital pager at: (513) 249-6812

Mailing Address:
University of Cincinnati
Radiation Safety Office
231 Albert Sabin Way
MSB 5402
PO Box 670591
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0591