Radioactive Materials

Requirements for researchers using unsealed radioactive material at UNSW:

  • Work must be approved by the Radiation Safety Committee 
  • Work must be conducted in a registered laboratory
  • Users must have appropriate user licence or work under exemption given by another licenced user
  • Note: the SI unit of radioactivity is becquerels (Bq) and should be used rather than curies (Ci). Conversion: 37MBq = 1 microcurie.
Project Approvals

Researchers conducting projects involving the use of radioactive materials must apply for RSC approval before starting work.


People who use or handle radioactive material must have either an EPA user licence (Class S5 or S8) or be exempted by a GE1 licence holder.

How to apply for an EPA user licence
  1. Complete Level 1 & Level 2 radiation training online course (see Training below) and receive local induction by the RSS
  2. Fill out an application for user licence of a regulated material in NSW.  Make sure to attach the Level 2 training certificate in the application 
How to work with radioactive material under exemption:
  1. Complete Level 1 radiation training online course (see Training below) and receive local induction by the RSS
  2. Obtain a written exemption by a GE1 licence holder (could be your project supervisor or local RSS). The GE1 licence holder must be in a position to directly supervise the exempted person or ensure that the person is appropriately supervised by another licensee in accordance with the EPA exemption criteria.
Exemptions are intended for people who are under training of safe work practices, usually in the first semester. This arrangement also covers for infrequent users who work with radioactive materials for a total period of less than 6 months. Staff and students requiring frequent use should only work under exemption in their first semester then must obtain their own user licence.
See below for training requirement for both licenced user and exempted user.
Laboratory Requirements

All projects involving the use of radioactive material must be conducted in a registered laboratory. Unsealed laboratory must be assessed and recommended by the Radiation Safety Committee to the DVC(R) for registration with the EPA.

  • Click here to download the registration application to the RSC if you would like to register your laboratory as an unsealed laboratory

The registered laboratory must:

  • have a dedicated Radiation Safety Supervisor
  • have a Laboratory Safety Manual that outlines general operating protocols
  • have appropriate signage on the entrance to the laboratory (UNSW safety hazard poster completed with UNSW RML number, Laboratory RRM number, expiry date, RSS and RSO contact details)
  • display in the laboratory a list of radiation users (licensed & exempted) as well as procedures in the event of an incident
  • maintain a record of purchasing, storage and disposal of regulated material and area monitoring
  • be inspected by members of the Radiation Safety Committee at least once a year. Click here to download the inspection template

Please contact the Support Officer at if you would like to decommission your registered laboratory


UNSW provides a 3-tier radiation training framework for users of radiation apparatus, sealed source devices and unsealed radioactive materials.

It is a pre-requisite for staff and students working with ionising radiation to receive training prior to starting work.

Note re UNSW Canberra Training

  • For staff and students at UNSW Canberra, working with ionising radiation is licensed differently than at UNSW faculties in NSW. Contact the local ionising radiation officer (Associate Professor Heiko Timmers) to be instructed on ionising radiation safety and the licensing requirements at UNSW Canberra. 


The ‘Level 1: Introduction to Ionising Radiation Safety@ UNSW’ module is an online course which covers the basic physics of ionising radiation with a strong emphasis on UNSW policies and procedures for RSC approval, users, monitoring, disposal, spills and deliveries handling.

This basic training is for all users of radiation apparatus, sealed source devices and unsealed radioactive materials. 

NOTE: there is browser issue with this course which can only be opened on Firefox or Internet Explorer. Make sure to switch over to either of these browser before logging into Moodle.

How to register: Go to myUNSW. Search by Course Number: HSERD1 in training registration.

Staff Click here for enrolment instructions.
Student Click here for enrolment instructions.



The 'Level 2: Ionising Radiation Licensed Users @ UNSW' is an online course for people seeking to obtain user licence type S5 or S8 (use of radioactive substances for analytical, scientific or research purposes) from the regulator (NSW EPA). This level of training is intended for project leaders who would submit to RSC for approval & grants and significant users (PhD/Master students, staff) with frequent use.


Please email your zID number to for registration.



Level III training is intended for Radiation Safety Supervisors who are overseeing radiation-related activities within the school’s radiation laboratory. The recommended training for this level is ANSTO's General Radiation Safety Officer course. Contact ANSTO directly for registration & course outline.


Please note: higher training levels are only available following satisfactory completion of all lower training levels.

In your application to the RSC, you must specify the type of monitoring (area & personal) appropriate for the work and radioisotope that you will be working with. 
Area monitoring
  • Contamination surveys of the work area should be done before and after procedure for work with unsealed radioactive material. Record of the surveys must be kept in the laboratory. 
  • Ensure that your portable area monitoring device: 
  1. is designed or set up to detect the type of radiation that your radioisotope emits
  2. is capable of detecting a sufficient range of contamination levels
  3. is checked with a known radioactive check source (such as your stock sample) each time before use to ensure it is functioning correctly
  4. has working batteries and the batteries are replaced when the monitor battery indicator shows that this is necessary  
  5. is calibrated at least once every twelve months or each time it has been repaired. The calibration must be traceable to a national primary standard or a secondary or tertiary standard that is traceable to the national primary standard 

Personal monitoring

A personal monitoring device is designed to measure, over a specified period of time, the radiation dose received by a person who is occupationally exposed to radiation. The monitor consists of a small card/sachet containing thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) material. This is the radiation-sensitive material lithium fluoride, which stores the energy it receives from ionising radiation until it is heated during processing. It then releases the energy as light.These TLD monitors are recommended for people who are exposed to X-rays, gamma rays, beta rays or a mixture of these types of radiation. Depending on the specific work carried out, different types of TLDs (extremity TLD, body badge TLD) can be requested. Similarly, monitors can be collected for reading at various exposure periods (4 , 8 or 12 weeks).

TLDs are issued to individual wearers who are registered with the badge service. As it is used to determine the dose received by the wearer identified on the badge, never wear someone else's nor loan out yours. TLDs should be worn at chest or waist height and should be underneath protective equipment such as lead aprons when these are worn.

Outside of working hours, or when not in use, TLDs should not be worn, but placed in storage with the control. This is necessary to ensure environmental conditions do not adversely affect the monitor and control differently and to reduce the possibility of their loss. This procedure also avoids the delays that frequently arise in returning monitors to the Personal Radiation Monitoring Service due to an individual being on leave at the end of a wearing period and not having left the monitor in the appropriate storage space.       

At UNSW,  the local Radiation Safety Supervisor liaises with the Health & Safety unit to register for new monitoring badge and monitor their readings. 

For further information please contact your local Radiation Safety Supervisor.

  • No radioactive waste shall be tipped down the drain or disposed of via the general waste stream
  • The laboratory must segregate wastes into different streams (liquid/solid) and radionuclide
  • Wastes must be kept in the laboratory for decay to below the licensable limit (<100Bq/gr) before dispose of through an approved waste contractor 
  • A Cleanaway Isotope Declaration Form and a Chemical Waste Inventory Form (HS014) must be included in all waste disposals.  
  • All radioactive waste disposal must be lodged by a licenced users and authorised by the Radiation Safety Officer
  • Record of disposal must be kept in the laboratory which clearly identify: the type of radioisotope disposed of, estimation of total activity and the date of disposal  
  • Contact your local RSS or the RSO directly for advice