Radiation Safety Awareness Training

Mandatory annual training for personnel who access radiation posted areas (non-radiation workers).

Radioactive material and x-ray machines are safely used in a wide variety of research programs at the University at Buffalo. Many UB personnel in the course of their duties are required to enter and work in areas where radiation sources are used or stored. This guide is designed to provide mandatory annual training for those personnel who are NOT considered radiological workers. This training does NOT qualify an individual to directly work with radioactive material or radiation generating equipment.

Radiation Source Use

Possession and use of radioactive material and x-ray equipment at UB is authorized by the New York State Department of Health (DOH). The Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) Services Radiation Safety Division implements a Radiation Safety Program required by the DOH. This program is designed to protect the health and safety of the members of the UB community and the public by maintaining exposures to radiation as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).

Example of a Caution - Radioactive Material sign displaying a radiation symbol.

Radiation Cautionary Signs

All items used for radioactive materials work in the labs such as test tubes, glassware, refrigerators, bench tops, water baths, fume hoods, etc., are required to be labeled with "Radioactive Material" signs or stickers.

The basic cautionary sign is shown here. Actual signs may vary in size and include other explanatory information. All work areas are designated with similar cautionary signs.

In addition, the doorway to every room authorized for radioactive material or x-ray use is posted with a general "Caution" sign (shown below)  displaying the radiation symbol and one of several classification types (such as "open source" or x-ray machine type). These signs serve as a guide to indicate the types hazardous materials allowed in the labs and to alert others to the potential hazard in a particular area. Also indicated on the sign are emergency response information and emergency contact phone numbers.

An example Lab Door Sign with graphic symbols depicting the potential hazards in the labs, specific safety instructions for workers in the lab and emergency contact telephone numbers.

Instructions for Employees

Under normal conditions, entry into any class radioactive materials laboratory for deliveries, housekeeping duties, etc. does not present a hazard. Such personnel do not require radiation monitoring (dosimeters) since their duties do not involve working directly with radioactive material. The following set of rules should be observed at all times:

OBEY all cautionary signs. They mean what they say.

  • REPORT any unusual event, such as spilled material from a container labeled with a radioactive material sticker, a radioactive materials storage freezer without power (and defrosting), etc. These situations if left unchecked could develop into a more serious problem.
  • State law requires individuals to report any condition which may lead to unnecessary exposure to radiation or radioactive material.
  • Report the incident to your SUPERVISOR and the PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR and then to EH&S.

DO NOT PERFORM any work on items labeled with radioactive cautionary signs.

  • DO NOT work on items suspected of being contaminated with radioactive material

DO NOT HANDLE items that are labeled with a Cautionary Sign.

DO NOT HANDLE or EMPTY radioactive waste containers.

  • Radioactive waste must be disposed of properly. It must not be released to normal trash.

DO NOT EAT, DRINK or SMOKE in radioactive material laboratories.

  • Doing so increases the risk of accidentally ingesting radioactive material.


  • Only trained individuals with the proper protective clothing should attempt to clean a radioactive spill.

DO NOT operate X-Ray Equipment.

  • X-ray machines do not produce radiation when not energized.
  • Only authorized and trained individuals may operate radiation-generating equipment.

LOCK all posted rooms when unattended.

When escorting an untrained person, make sure that the individual follows these instructions.


In case any worker becomes accidentally contaminated with radioactive material or if contamination is suspected:

  1. INFORM OTHERS in the area to stay away from any suspected contamination.
  2. REPORT the incident to your supervisor and then to EH&S. During the hours of 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, call EH&S at 716-829-3281. Between 5:00 pm and 8:30 am, call University Police at 716-645-2222, who will in turn contact EH&S.
  3. If accidentally contaminated, remain calm. You are not in any danger if you follow a few simple rules: WASH OFF with soap and water. Remove any contaminated clothing. MINIMIZE MOVEMENT to prevent further spread of the material. Stay near the area and have other individuals contact help. Do not eat, drink, smoke and avoid contact with the eyes, nose mouth or open wounds. DO NOT LEAVE the area until cleared by EH&S.

Contact EH&S anytime for answers to questions concerning radiation safety at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Documentation of Training

To complete your Radiation Safety Awareness training, fill in an submit the certification form below. You will receive a confirmation "Training Certification" email. Place a copy of that email with your Principal Investigator's training records.