The new era of linac maintenance personnel.
The CNSC has released a draft regulatory document describing competencies for a class II service technician. This is a new development for Class II devices, and with the implications of the regulatory document still largely unknown, there has been some apprehension by those that are potentially affected by the regulatory changes.
Creating a training environment for Class II service technicians is challenging due to the low numbers of service technicians and the large geographic area over which Class II devices are deployed. Few training programs have been developed, which decreases the speed by which practice standards can be deployed and keeps maintenance costs high. However, under the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations, Class II license holders are required to ensure enough qualified workers and to train workers. As well, many other provincial occupational health and safety regulations also have formal requirements for worker training.
The draft competency profile released by the CNSC seeks to establish a common set of service technician competencies, create assessment methods, and establish common practices and terminology for performance management, workforce planning and training, and employee development.
The competency profile describes two broad areas: 1) categories of competencies, and 2) a requirement to retain training records. It describes four categories of competencies: Technology competencies, Regulatory Competencies, Safety Competencies, and safety-related attributes.
The technology competencies relate to the equipment: preventative and corrective maintenance, and quality assurance. The regulatory competencies relate to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act Regulations, and to provincial Occupational Health and Safety Regulations covering areas such as Electrical Safety, Machine, and Mechanical safety, Pressure vessels, hazardous materials as well as regulations around working alone and working in confined spaces. Safety Competencies are related to understanding how safety regulations apply to the Class II service technician environment. The safety-related attributes described in the regulatory document relate to the interpersonal and communication skills needed in the workplace, which are also hallmarks of leadership skills.
The competency profile requirements can be summarized in these four parts:
1. Understanding machine components, parts, how they work, and how to maintain them,
2. Understanding Federal Nuclear Safety and Provincial Occupational Safety regulations,
3. Identifying aspects of safety regulations that apply to the workplace,
4. Understanding the clinic and hospital environment and acting appropriately.
Access to training for Class II service technicians has been declining steadily over the 23 years that the CNSC has existed. Yet, the demand for radiotherapy is higher than ever. The base competencies described by the CNSC form a minimum level of training that can well serve the radiotherapy Class II community since it provides a common practice that can be used to build the type of service technician that will help support radiotherapy well into the future.