Do you know your legal obligations for owning and operating radiographic equipment? If so, kudos to you, you are in the minority - and if not, don’t fret, we are here to help!
We have observed that there is, for lack of better words, room for improvement in these categories. As such, we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions about radiation safety and EPA regulations, by dentists, practice managers, and support staff.
Our goal? To simplify radiation safety, keep you and your team safe, and your practice compliant.
Q: When does my x-ray equipment require compliance testing?
A: After device installation, BEFORE use in practice. Subsequently, every 5 years, succeeding major services that involve a tubehead replacement, and after a relocation.
Q: Do I get a certificate?
A: Yes, if your unit meets the requirements for compliance, as defined by EPA Radiation Standard 6 - Dentistry, you receive a certificate of compliance and accompanying report.
Q: How long is the compliance certificate valid for?
A: 5 years.
Q: How long does the testing take?
A: Testing times depend on the type of equipment. A standard intraoral x-ray takes around 30 min, while an OPG/CBCT requires 1-2 hours. But don’t worry about downtime. Our team is happy to accommodate your busy schedule where possible, to minimise interruptions to your workflow.
Q: Are you going to notify me when my equipment is next due for testing?
A: Yes, we will! We keep track of your testing dates and will get in touch 1-2 months prior to the expiry of your compliance certification, giving us enough time to book in a mutually convenient time to complete the recertification. What if you acquire new equipment in the meantime? No problem! Just pop your details into the Compliance Calendar on our website or contact us via email/phone and we’ll add the new testing dates to our diary.
Q: Who is the governing body in NSW?
A: This is an important question, especially for larger organisations, whose dental practices span across states, as each state has different regulations. In NSW, the governing body is the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
Q: Do I need a Radiation Management License (RML)?
A: Yes, it is mandatory for every practice that owns radiographic equipment to have a valid RML. Furthermore, you are required to register each piece of x-ray equipment onto your RML. Both can be completed on the EPA eConnect website.
Q: Can you help me with EPA licensing?
A: We can help you through the steps to acquire your RML and provide you with the information you require to register your x-ray unit(s) onto your RML. However, it is important to note that we are not the EPA - we are simply accredited by the EPA, and are happy to assist, where we can.
Q: I’m getting new radiographic equipment installed - OR I’m upgrading from an OPG to CBCT. Do I require shielding under EPA regulations?
A: Each room must be assessed on an individual basis, taking into consideration EPA Radiation Guideline 7 - Shielding. The answer depends on your current room design, i.e. the distances between your new unit and walls/doors, as well as what is behind each wall/door. The unit’s technical specifications and output also play a role. Consulting a CRE is a good idea if you have any questions. Gamma Tech always aims to reduce the need for additional building works (aka additional costs) where applicable, while adhering to all safety standards.
Q: When do I need to have my OPG/CBCT serviced under EPA regulations?
A: You should follow the manufacturer guidelines regarding all services. At a minimum, you should have your OPG/CBCT fully serviced at least once a year, including a full calibration and preventive maintenance, carried out by a qualified professional. You should also keep a record of each service, for your QA program. This is for the CRE’s reference, or in the event of an audit.
Furthermore, many manufacturers recommend a monthly QA phantom calibration for their CBCT systems (the required tool is usually also provided by the manufacturer). Check your user manuals, or speak with your equipment supplier to find out more.
Besides the service, you must also have all radiographic equipment compliance tested by a CRE following installation, relocation, and major services involving a tubehead replacement, or subsequently, every five years.
Why is this important? These machines are highly advanced and have critically sensitive components. Ensuring your OPG/CBCT undergoes a yearly service and regular compliance testing is crucial to ensuring your equipment functions properly, and produces the highest quality images. These are critical factors when using ionising radiation, for diagnostic imaging, as it limits over exposure.
Q: I’m planning on buying a new x-ray unit. What do I need to do to ensure compliance with EPA regulations?
A: There are 4 important steps you should do immediately.
➡️ STEP 1: Shielding assessment
Complete a shielding assessment of the premises as outlined in ‘NSW EPA Radiation Guideline 7’. This will determine if the room qualifies as a low, medium, or high risk premises. If further shielding is required, have qualified personnel complete a shielding report for the room, and install shielding accordingly.
➡️ STEP 2: Radiation Management License (RML)
If this is your first x-ray unit and you don’t hold a valid RML for the premises, apply for it in advance, as it may take several weeks for the license to be issued. This can be completed on the eConnect website from the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
➡️ STEP 3: Register your x-ray unit onto your RML
Head to the same eConnect website to complete this step. This is where you also inform the EPA of any changes with the radiographic equipment in your practice, i.e., when you move a unit from one room to another room, or dispose of one.
➡️ STEP 4: Compliance Certification
Make an appointment with a CRE to come to your practice and compliance test and certify the new x-ray unit for you. This ensures the unit is safe to use.
The best way to stay safe, in any environment, is to stay educated. Hence, it is vital to understand the radiation safety regulations that apply to your practice.
If you have further questions, or would like to book in your x-ray equipment for compliance testing, please reach out to us at Gamma Tech HERE or call 0437 230 808.