Radiation Protection in Radiology: Steps to Improve Ionising Radiation Safety in Your Veterinary Practice

Radiation protection in veterinary practices is becoming increasingly important as technology for X-ray equipment evolves to perform higher-quality diagnoses. In this article, we provide a handful of proactive techniques to promote a safer working environment for pets, nurses, and vets.

Best Radiation Safety Practices for Veterinary Clinics

As veterinary professionals, most days usually involve using X-rays to make radiographs to help diagnose problems. However, trying to juggle the stresses of a busy practice can have a knock-on effect on the way radiation safety is dealt with within the field of healthcare. The good news is that there are some simple, yet effective, methods to achieve the necessary standards required.

Minimise Time of Ionising Radiation Exposure

One of the key ways of improving radiation safety in your veterinary practice is to minimise the time that each nurse or vet is exposed to radiation. As you’re probably aware, the risks associated with radiation exposure increase when someone exposes themselves to it for longer periods.

As a veterinary practice, always encourage every employee to use positioning devices, such as sandbags, Velcro restraints and tape – instead of touching the patient directly. You should also look to put a greater emphasis on rotation duties in radiology so that one or two aren’t always involved in every X-ray.

Maximise Distance From the Source

When it comes to conducting the X-ray, distancing yourself and any other team member from the source can reduce exposure. During radiology, excess X rays are spread in several directions from the patients, so if someone chooses to sit too close, they’ll be heavily exposed.

Using the Inverse Square Law to estimate the intensity of electromagnetic waves over distance, simply stepping back 2 feet will reduce your exposure to harmful radiation by 4 times. It’s also worth using radiolucent devices to help maintain your distance from the X-ray scatter while maintaining control over the patient.

X-Ray Protective Viewing Window

Radiation Protection: Shield Yourself

The next way of improving radiation protection is to use appropriate protective equipment in your practice.
Replacing regular doors with our hand-finished lead-lined doorsets can make all the difference. Rigorously tested to ensure maximum radiation protection, and made using our tried and tested manufacturing methods, they’re the best way of shielding everyone outside of the room.

If you’re conducting the scan, we have a variety of NHS HTM-approved products designed to provide effective shielding from the X-ray scatter For instance, the Frameless X-Ray Operator Screen is an exclusive Raybloc product which provides an aesthetically pleasing, non-intrusive barrier between yourself and the machine.

An X-Ray Protective Viewing Window is a more permanent fix to shielding between rooms without compromising visibility between the adjacent rooms; they’re made from lead glass and can be specifically tailored to fit any shape or size. Alternatively, for a more flexible approach to radiology, our Mobile X-Ray Screens can be wheeled around and give you the exact protection you need. You can read about how investing in lead-lined doors and windows can make a positive impact on radiation safety in this case study from one of our clients.

Wear the Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Another crucial aspect of radiation safety in veterinary practice is ensuring that all staff members wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with X-ray equipment. PPE serves as an additional barrier between individuals and ionising radiation, minimising the risk of exposure. The essential PPE for veterinary professionals includes lead aprons, lead gloves, thyroid shields, and protective eyewear.

Lead aprons are designed to shield the torso and reproductive organs from radiation, while lead gloves offer protection for the hands. Thyroid shields provide specific shielding for the thyroid gland, which is particularly sensitive to radiation. Protective eyewear, such as lead glasses, safeguard the eyes from potential harm. It is crucial to ensure that the PPE is regularly inspected for any damage or wear and tear, as compromised equipment may compromise safety.

Flush Mounted Door Warning Lights

Assign an Individual to Educate Other Staff Members About X-Ray Safety

Assigning a dedicated individual to educate and train other staff members about X-ray safety is a proactive step in promoting radiation protection in your veterinary practice. This person can serve as a radiation safety officer or coordinator, responsible for implementing and overseeing safety protocols and training programs.

The radiation safety officer can conduct regular training sessions to educate all staff members about the risks associated with ionizing radiation and the best practices for minimising exposure. These sessions can cover topics such as proper use of equipment, adherence to safety procedures, and the importance of wearing PPE.

By ensuring that everyone is well-informed and aware of radiation safety measures, you create a culture of responsibility and vigilance within your veterinary practice. Putting X-ray warning lights on the door is another simple reminder for anyone who walks nearby or enters the room and leaves zero room for ambiguity on the hazards that X-rays pose.

Raise Awareness of Health and Safety

The final step towards improving radiation safety in your veterinary practice is to create an environment which promotes the importance of safety policies in the workplace. For starters, try running regular refresher training sessions to remind every nurse and vet about the significance of X ray safety. It may not seem like much, but taking these small steps will rub off on the wider team and make all the difference when your practice is packed to the rafters.

Final Thoughts

Prioritising radiation safety in your veterinary practice is crucial for the well-being of your staff and animals. By implementing measures like minimising exposure time, maintaining safe distances, using shielding devices, wearing proper PPE, and providing regular training, you create a safer environment and reduce radiation risks.

Remember, safety extends beyond your practice to protect the public and the environment. Adhering to protocols and staying informed shows your commitment to high standards of care and long-term health. Foster a culture of safety, educate your staff, and contribute to a future where veterinary radiology is effective and safe for all.


What is the most common safety hazard in veterinary medicine?

Radiation exposure from X-ray equipment during diagnostic imaging is a common safety hazard in veterinary medicine. Veterinary professionals working with X-ray machines are at risk of health issues like burns, genetic damage, and cancer if safety precautions are not followed.

To mitigate this risk, practices should prioritise X ray safety through measures like minimising exposure time, maintaining safe distances, using shielding devices, and wearing proper protective equipment. Regular training and equipment maintenance are also vital for staff safety.

Why is Radiation Safety Important in Vet Practices?

Radiation safety is crucial in veterinary practice to protect humans, animals, and the environment from the harmful effects of excessive ionizing radiation. Prioritising safety safeguards the health of veterinary staff and animals by reducing the risk of radiation-related health issues like burns, genetic damage, and cancer. It also prevents unnecessary exposure to ionising radiation for the general public and the surrounding environment.

How can Veterinary Practices ensure X-ray Safety?

Veterinary practices can ensure radiation safety by implementing the following measures:

  1. Training and Education: Provide comprehensive training programs to all staff members on radiation safety protocols, equipment usage, and proper handling of radiation-emitting devices. Regular refresher courses can help reinforce safety practices and keep everyone updated on the latest guidelines.
  2. Equipment Maintenance and Inspection: Regularly inspect and maintain all X-ray equipment to ensure proper functioning and safety. Any malfunctioning equipment should be promptly repaired or replaced to prevent potential risks within the department.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Ensure that all staff members have access to and consistently use appropriate PPE, including lead aprons, gloves, thyroid shields, and protective eyewear. Regularly assess and replace PPE when necessary.
  4. Safe Work Practices: Promote safe work practices, such as reducing the time of radiation exposure, maintaining a safe distance from the radiation source, and utilising shielding devices like lead-lined doorsets, mobile operator screens and windows.
  5. Radiation Monitoring: Implement a system for monitoring radiation exposure levels during imaging procedures to ensure that they remain within acceptable limits. This can involve using dosimeters to measure and record individual staff members’ radiation doses.
  6. Regulatory Compliance: Familiarise yourself with and adhere to local regulations and guidelines concerning radiation risks in veterinary practice. Stay informed about any updates or changes in the regulations to ensure ongoing compliance.
To find out more about our X-ray protection products, download our eBook today.

Lead Lined Wall Panelling

Do not skip corners when it comes to radiation protection. It is what shields you, your staff, and your patients from harmful radiation. There is no compromise when it comes to people’s lives. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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