So, you’re starting a new dental practice - fantastic.
Through your schooling and work experience, you have come to understand the undeniable benefits of dental radiography. You’ve budgeted accordingly and plan on bringing in the very best x-ray technology. But what’s next? What are your legal obligations, for owning and operating x-ray equipment, in NSW?
**Please note, these regulations vary from state to state, so if you’re located outside of NSW, check with your local authority.
1. Captain America has a shield and your practice may need one too
First, before your equipment is installed, a shielding assessment must be completed to determine if the examination room qualifies as a low, medium, or high risk premises, in accordance with EPA Radiation Guideline 7. Please note, Radiation Standard 7 will be superseding Guideline 7 later this year, so stay tuned.
Most dental examination rooms qualify as low-risk, allowing for a self-assessment report to be completed by the owner, with no further shielding required. Details and examples can be found in section 5, of Guideline 7. A Shielding Plan and the approval of a Consulting Radiation Expert (CRE) are required if your room(s) are deemed medium or high risk.
Step two, is applying for your Radiation Management License (RML) for the premises, and Radiation User License(s) for anyone who will be operating the equipment. This can be completed on the eConnect EPA website. It is your responsibility to ensure that both licenses are valid, for the entirety that your practice owns and operates radiographic equipment. Once the installation is completed, you are required to add the new unit(s) to your RML.
The final step is to have a CRE compliance test the unit(s). This is to ensure they meet the mandatory safety requirements, under EPA Radiation Standard 6. After successful completion, the CRE issues your compliance certificate and accompanying technical report.
2. You don’t whinge about your pink slips, do you?
Imagine your x-ray unit as a new car. Just like you renew your rego every year, you are required to renew your RML. Subsequently, after five years, your car requires a safety inspection. Your mechanic carries out a few standard tests and upon successful completion, deems your car road-safe and issues a pink slip.
The same principles apply to your x-ray equipment. In NSW, it’s mandatory to have your radiographic equipment inspected by a CRE, every five years. When your x-ray unit, OPG, or CBCT passes all tests and is deemed safe for use, you will be issued with a new compliance certificate and report.
3. Does your roadmap to retirement cover your radiographic equipment?
Retirement is a significant turning point in a person’s life. Ideally, the day you put down your loupes, probe and mirror for the last time, the challenges of selling your practice lay behind you. But before you head to your farewell drinks, did you remember to transfer your radiographic equipment?
In NSW, this means logging into your eConnect portal one last time and removing all existing x-ray devices in the surgery, from your RML. If you have a successor taking over your practice, you must supply them with all relevant information, to add the equipment to their own RML.
If you are shutting down completely and disposing of the x-ray equipment, no worries. All you are required to do is render the equipment permanently inoperable by cutting the cables to the tubehead, and disposing of it, in accordance with the conditions of your RML. Lastly, you must submit a variation to your RML through the eConnect portal stating your units have been decommissioned.
Starting a new dental practice? We're here to help!
If you have questions regarding radiation safety, or would like to learn more about your legal obligations, please reach out to our team at Gamma Tech.
P: 0437 230 808
This story was first published in Australasian Dentist, May-June 2022.