New OSHA Page Focuses on Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Response

Published March 21, 2019

A new OSHA web page on radiation emergency preparedness is intended to help protect the health and safety of workers during a variety of accidental and intentional radiation incidents. According to OSHA, situations involving radiation can range from small, isolated incidents in laboratories to potentially catastrophic radiation releases at nuclear facilities. Other potential radiation emergencies include transportation incidents involving radioactive materials, the use of devices designed intentionally to release radioactive material or expose people to radiation, or nuclear weapon accidents or detonation.

OSHA’s new page focuses mainly on ionizing radiation, the primary type of radiation associated with radiation emergencies. The agency warns that exposure to ionizing radiation—especially at higher doses—increases the risk of developing health effects, which can include blood cell changes, skin burns, radiation sickness, cancer, and death.

Workers and employers who may be involved in emergency response operations or related activities during or following a radiation emergency can use the resources on OSHA’s new page to learn how to prepare for and respond to such events. The agency also provides information for those who may be affected by radiation emergencies, but who do not have emergency response roles. OSHA’s resources include information on health and safety planning, medical monitoring and dosimetry, and personal protective equipment for emergency response workers.