- Safety and Health Topics
Radiation may be defined as energy traveling through space. Non-ionizing radiation is essential to life, but excessive exposures will cause tissue damage. All forms of ionizing radiation have sufficient energy to ionize atoms that may destabilize molecules within cells and lead to tissue damage.
Radiation sources are found in a wide range of occupational settings. If radiation is not properly controlled it can be potentially hazardous to the health of workers.
The following link to information about non-ionizing and ionizing radiation in the workplace.
For information about emergencies involving ionizing radiation exposures, visit OSHA’s Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Response page. (The Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Response page does not address non-ionizing radiation.)
The most familiar form of electromagnetic (EM) radiation is sunshine, which provides light and heat. Sunshine consists primarily of radiation in infrared (IR), visible, and ultraviolet (UV) frequencies. Lasers also emit EM radiation in these "optical frequencies." The higher frequencies of EM radiation, consisting of x-rays and gamma rays, are types of ionizing radiation. Lower frequency radiation, consisting of ultraviolet (UV), infrared (IR), microwave (MW), Radio Frequency (RF), and extremely low frequency (ELF) are types of non-ionizing radiation.
- Radiation. OSHA Training and Reference Materials Library. Provides several presentations and lectures on radiation, including non-ionizing radiation.
- The Electromagnetic Spectrum. Michigan Technological University (MTU). Describes the electromagnetic spectrum.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.