Motivating Performance for Achieving ALARA Goals


R. H. Johnson, Jr.


The ongoing success of an ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) radiation safety program is largely related to the motivation of radiation workers to implement ALARA practices. All new radiation workers receive training to provide grounds for accepting radiation risks based on an informed understanding of the risks and what to do to keep the risks ALARA. Workers' understanding of radiation risks, however, is directly related to their perceptions or images of the consequences of exposure to radiation. Such images may not be changed by the factual information usually presented in radiation safety training. Thus, workers may be overly alarmed, and expect or demand very low exposures, or they may be overly complacent and not practice ALARA. The first challenge for motivating workers is to address their images of radiation consequences in order to achieve a balance between alarm and complacency. The next challenge is to help workers understand the benefits of ALARA goals for themselves and for the organization. Hopefully, by having a good understanding of ALARA goals, workers will be self-motivated to meet the goals of your radiation safety program. But, what do you do when workers do not comply with program expectations? Do you use the carrot or the stick? Do you motivate performance by positive incentives to stimulate success by rewards, praise, recognition, and good feelings? Or, do you motivate the desired performance by demands, and threats of punishment and negative consequences of failure to follow ALARA practices? Both positive and negative incentives may be needed and both will be discussed as elements of a successful ALARA program.


This abstract was presented at the 34th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Radiation Safety and ALARA Considerations for the 21st Century", RSO Section Session, 2/4/2001 - 2/7/2001, held in Anaheim, CA.

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