Meet your Safety Superheroes: Alison Yarmill, Radiation Safety Officer
Similar to superheroes, the safety officers at the University of Manitoba also work to save the day!
Get to know the safety professionals in your Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office. We’re spilling the “safe-tea” with these safety heroes to learn about their career path and the rewards and challenges of their role.
Introducing Alison Yarmill, the Radiation Safety Officer. Alison manages the radiation safety program that is responsible for those at the UofM who work with non-ionizing radiation, radioactive materials and x-rays. She also assists in the general laboratory safety program.
How did you come to this career/position?
After graduating with a science degree from the University of Winnipeg, I worked in a molecular biology lab at the UofM for over 20 years. As a technician, I was able to participate on the institutional’s biological safety advisory committee. This sparked my interest in safety as I could identify the gaps between safety programs and their end-users in the lab. As my supervisor was retiring and I was looking for new opportunities, I felt my experience could help get the message out. Initially I was hired by EHS as the lab safety technologist where I learned about general lab safety and then eventually moved into the radiation safety program.
Name something rewarding and challenging in your position.
Being able to establish good working relationships with our clients has been rewarding. Especially when it comes to project-specific protocols, I work with the researcher to ensure their needs are met while making sure we’re in compliance with our regulators.
A challenging aspect would be researchers who do not realize the importance of our programs and the consequences if we are not in compliance. Non-compliance leads to citations, which can be a monetary fine or can jeopardize all the users at the UofM.
What might others be surprised to know about what you do?
Radiation safety comes under a lot of regulations! Whether it be federal, provincial or ANSI/CSA standards, we have to keep up to date with the regulations and amend the program(s) as required to comply and maintain the U of M’s Federal Licence and Provincial Authorizations.
Superhero you most identify with and why:
Spiderman, not just because he was bit by a radioactive spider, but like Spiderman I move from building to building to meet users, conduct inspections etc. I also identify with the Peter Parker side of Spiderman as the journalist to be able to properly communicate with our users. Check out the Radiation and X-ray Safety Newsletters.
You can reach Alison at Alison [dot] yarmill [at] umanitoba [dot] ca or at 204-789-3654