An x-ray technician's primary job function is to operate machines that emit radiation for the purpose of making photographs that penetrate deep into the body. The diagnostic information provided by them is valuable and saves many lives. However, there is more to the job than putting the machine into place and pushing the activation button. X-rays can be extremely hazardous if used too many times or for too long. People working in this field must be prepared for these hazards at all times.
It is extremely important to learn about each setting on the devices. Since they emit radiation, the workers must also be aware of the acceptable limits for exposure to that radiation. This means that a good x-ray technician will always know when the machine is active and x-rays are being emitted from the tube.
Another important process needed to ensure safety is to make sure that safety equipment and radiation protection is in proper working condition. This includes shielding, warning lights, timers, and any other safety device that is either part of the machine or meant to be used with it. If a lead apron is not available, then it is important for the technician to stand behind a wall or around a corner. An electronic personal dosimeter should also be used periodically to monitor radiation exposure, ensuring that the technician is always within safe limits.
Whether the machines being used are of the fixed type or portable, because they are used in clinical or surgical settings, it is important to always use universal precautions. X-ray equipment is exposed to a variety of patients that may or may not have open wounds, flowing blood or other bodily fluids that can easily come into contact with the equipment. To avoid communicable diseases, a technician should wear gloves at all times. In some instances it may also be necessary to wear a gown, goggles or a mask, as well. Equipment must be cleaned and sterilized after each patient to control the spread of infection to the technician, other patients, and other health care professionals.
X-ray equipment is large and bulky. Machine use not only requires movement of the aligning arm, but sometimes the entire machine. Ergonomic postures and techniques should always be used when moving the machines. Never overextend the body or overreach as these may cause personal injury. Also be aware that many patients are in severe pain and may act suddenly or irrationally. It is always beneficial to stay alert at all times. Following these guidelines will keep an x-ray technician safe for the length of his or her career.