Safety, Health and Injury Management and Wellbeing

Working rules for OHCWA intra-oral dental X-ray units

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Working rules are essential to ensure that all intra-oral dental x-ray units are used in accordance with legal requirements and with a high standard of safety for patients, staff, students and others.

  1. Intra-oral dental x-ray units may only be operated by a qualified dentist, by dental ancillary personnel (Refer 2) under the direction and supervision of a dentist, or by a qualified radiographer on the instructions of a dentist or medical practitioner, and only for the purposes of intra-oral radiography and lateral oblique radiography of the mandible. No other person is authorised to operate these units and they must not be used for any other purpose than the above.
  2. Dental ancillary personnel means a person who has satisfactorily completed a Radiological Council approved radiation safety training course.
  3. These units are not to be operated or used for human diagnostic radiography unless covered by a current Certificate of Compliance.
  4. Note that the default exposure value when turning on the unit is the adult bitewing mode. This has been pre-programmed into the machine.
  5. Select and fit the collimator to be used. It is recommended that the long collimator be used whenever possible in order to keep the absorbed dose to the patient as low as possible.
  6. The exposure values must be selected according to the collimator, the image mode, adult/child, exposure region, time and kV (these are usually pre-programmed).
  7. Ask the patient to sit down (if not already seated) and position the dental chair appropriately.
  8. Position the PSP plate and collimator as required; it is recommended that a beam guidance instrument should be used whenever possible for all diagnostic imaging (e.g. the Rinn XCP device).
  9. When taking a radiograph, ensure the patient remains as still as possible. No one except the patient may remain in the radiation area whilst the exposure is taken, except in special circumstances (e.g. where a child is being held by a parent).
  10. The operator must move as far away from the x-ray tube as the cable permits. Operators and observers should stand at least two metres from the patient’s head during exposures and conscientiously use any protective shielding provided.  Where there is no protective shielding, obey the position distance rule, i.e. stand at least 2 metres from the patient, at an angle of 90° to 135° to the central x-ray beam.
  11. Maintain visual contact with the patient and x-ray unit during the exposure.
  12. Ensure the number on the control panel corresponds with your cubicle number (when facing the cubicle the control panel will be towards the right) and that the ready light is on. Press and hold the exposure key on the control panel for the duration of the exposure. The exposure warning light will come on and you will hear a radiation warning tone during the exposure. Do not release the key until the exposure has been complete.
  13. After each exposure ensure the collimator is left pointing down and the X-ray unit is switched off at the control panel and the isolation switch.
  14. Immediate measures must be taken to remove potentially hazardous situations arising from x-ray beams that may be emitted due to an equipment defect, misalignment or any other reason.  It is recommended that each x-ray unit is switched off after use.
  15. The OHCWA/School Radiation Safety Officer (SRSO) is: A/Prof Johan Aps (ext. 77834).
  16. Servicing of x-ray machines may only be carried out by a technician with a suitable license from the Radiological Council.
  17. All incidents and injuries must be reported to the SRSO and UWA Safety and Health. If the machine is faulty, do not use it - instead, tag and report it for repair.
  18. These working rules are to be prominently displayed beside the x-ray unit control panel at all times.
  19. For further information please refer to the Code of practice and safety guide entitled "Radiation Protection in Dentistry" issued by ARPANSA.