What do St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia and HBO, the premium cable and streaming network, surprisingly have in common?
They recently had job opportunities that required—or in the case of HBO, should have required—the hard-to-find expertise of a Certified Health Physicist (CHP).
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital sought a CHP to manage its radiation safety program. Newport News Shipbuilding, one of the world’s largest shipyards, advertised for an expert to assess and monitor radiation exposure. And HBO’s “Chernobyl” miniseries had factual inaccuracies that a CHP could quickly correct in the writer’s room.
Each instance underscores an indisputable truth: As a CHP, your specialized expertise in safely using and managing radioactive materials is required in various professions and sectors. Some are obvious. Others not so much.
The following key industries rely on CHPs to expertly navigate regulations, protect public health and promote responsible radioactive substance use.
Nuclear power plants: Strict safety measures and regulatory compliance are essential when using radioactive materials to generate electricity in nuclear power plants. Central to this process are CHPs, which ensure the safe handling of materials and adherence to established standards. Key aspects of their role include developing and implementing radiation safety programs encompassing worker education, radiation monitoring, emergency planning, waste management and staying current with guidelines set forth by organizations like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Health care facilities: CHPs are experts in safely using radioactive materials in health care for diagnostic and treatment procedures such as radiography, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine. Despite their effectiveness, these procedures can pose health risks to patients, health care workers and the environment. CHPs assist health care facilities in developing radiation safety programs that cover worker training, radiation monitoring, emergency planning and effective waste management, all of which minimize potential risks and ensure compliance with regulations.
Research institutions: Academic institutions, governmental labs and private research organizations conduct research involving radioactive materials. In these facilities, CHPs create radiation safety programs encompassing employee training, radiation surveillance, emergency preparedness and waste handling to mitigate potential hazards related to radioactive material usage. Additionally, CHPs contribute significantly to environmental protection by guaranteeing appropriate containment and disposal of radioactive substances.
Industrial companies: CHPs assist businesses engaged in the production, processing or transport of radioactive materials, including those in sectors like mining, oil and gas, and nuclear energy. They establish radiation safety programs and transportation safety plans to guarantee the secure management and utilization of these substances in adherence to regulatory standards.
Environmental consulting firms: A CHP’s expertise may be necessary for identifying radiation hazards, evaluating them and devising remediation strategies in ecological assessment and remediation consulting firms. CHPs can provide insights into radiation risk management, ensuring compliance with regulations and minimizing health and environmental impacts in radioactive material cases. CHPs can aid in assessments, risk management planning, cleanup method determination and regulatory consistency.
Regulatory agencies: Regulatory agencies, such as the NRC or state radiation control agencies, hire CHPs to inspect, review license applications and provide technical expertise. CHPs’ specialized knowledge in radiation protection aids these agencies in fulfilling their regulatory responsibilities and ensuring compliance with standards and safe facility operations.
Emergency response organizations: Emergency response organizations, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or local emergency management agencies, can benefit from a CHP’s expertise in responding to radiation emergencies. Their knowledge of radiation protection, dose assessment and contamination control help manage risks and minimize exposure. CHPs may also coordinate with other agencies to ensure an effective response.
Radiopharmaceutical companies: Companies that manufacture and distribute radioactive materials require CHPs to ensure safe handling and compliance with regulations. CHPs develop protocols, guide detection and measurement equipment, and monitor exposure levels. They also conduct staff training on radiation safety measures. Collaborating with CHPs contributes to the safe use of radioactive materials in medical procedures, benefiting patients and health care providers.
Aerospace companies: Aerospace companies often use radioactive materials in spacecraft or aircraft components, such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). In this sector, CHPs help develop safety protocols while assessing exposure risks and collaborating with other professionals to ensure regulatory compliance. They may also train personnel and monitor radiation exposure levels.
Mining companies: Mining companies that use radioactive materials, such as uranium mining, require CHPs to ensure safe handling and regulatory compliance. CHPs collaborate with mining professionals to develop safety plans, monitor radiation levels and provide training on secure handling. They also mitigate radiation exposure risks and ensure mining operations are safe for the public and the environment.
Food irradiation companies: Food processing companies using radiation to sterilize or preserve food products require CHPs to ensure safe doses and compliance. CHPs establish safety protocols, conduct dose assessments, and provide equipment guidance. They also develop training programs and conduct inspections to ensure regulatory compliance.
Defense contractors: Radiological materials, such as nuclear weapons, radiography devices and radiation detection equipment, have diverse defense applications. CHPs develop and implement radiation protection programs while overseeing radioactive materials’ usage, storage, transportation, and disposal. They also conduct inspections to identify risks and recommend corrective actions. Defense contractors risk violating regulations without a CHP and endangering health and safety.
Interested in becoming a leader in the radiation safety industry? Email us to learn more about how to become a CHP and elevate your career as a member of the American Academy of Health Physics (AAHP).