The effects of radiation can send a chill down anyone’s spine, especially after what happened at Chernobyl and Japan’s Fukushima. These effects were not only felt by the workers at the plants, but also by the communities around the plants. Some people bought iodine pills after the meltdown at Fukushima out of fear that radiation could cross the Pacific Ocean.
Workers involved with making nuclear weapons during the cold war and sick from radiation exposure got relief from the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (EEOICPA) Program Act of 2000. Attorneys like those at Stephens & Stephens aim to help workers that worked for the Department of Energy and became sick as a result of exposure to radiation or hazardous materials file EEOICPA claims.
Although there are real risks involved with working at a nuclear plant, here are three main ways to protect yourself while working at a nuclear power plant:
How to Protect Yourself from Radiation
A nuclear plant has different zones with different elevated levels of radiation. Depending on what you do at the plant, you have to be aware of danger zones and stay clear of them. By maximizing your distance from the source of radiation, you decrease the radiation dose you are potentially exposed to.
The inverse square law applied here states that the intensity of radiation is inversely proportional to the square of the distance of radioactive materials (in this case, for gamma and X-rays). This, in layman’s terms, means that when you increase the distance between yourself and the source of radiation by two, you essentially decrease the dose of exposure four times.
The way to maintain a safe distance between employees and the radioactive material includes locking radioactive materials in secure rooms, handling radioactive materials remotely with glove boxes, activating machinery that produces radiation from the outside, and staying outside when there are work delays.
Here, the dose of radiation exposure to the worker is directly proportional to the time spent near radioactive materials. This means that the more time you spend near radiation, the more exposed you are.
To limit the time spent in radioactive zones, employers need to develop policies that do exactly this, such as letting employees know their role and training them to perform their duty efficiently. They could also encourage most of the work to be done outside for as long as possible so that when they have to be in contact with radioactive material, very little time is wasted.
Employers should have the sources of radiation contained in shielded containers and rooms. The type of radiation produced by the source will determine the type of shielding employed such as concrete, aluminum, glass, lead, or plastic shields. There should also be an in-place radiation monitoring system that can warn workers if there are leakages.
Because shielding is employed to create separation between a worker and the radiation source, personal protective equipment should be worn at all times when in contact with hazardous materials. This PPE includes special eyeglasses and hazmat suits. It’s important to remember that wearing PPE will not protect you from direct exposure unless it contains shielding material.
What to Do if You Have Been Exposed to Radiation
Accidents happen and no matter how careful you have been, you might still get exposed. Seek immediate medical attention after exposure or as soon as you start exhibiting signs of radioactive poisoning. You can sue your employer for worker compensation, especially if the exposure to radiation leads to occupational illnesses. EEOICPA claims can be complicated to file, hence the need to have a trained professional to take you through the process.