Laser Safety

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The purpose of a laser safety program is to ensure a safe environment at the campus research and clinical sites for the use of laser technology. Laser radiation presents a risk to researchers, workers, medical staff and patients. The safe use of laser radiation requires that the laser devices are properly labeled and hazard areas posted, that the machines operate as designed and specified, that proper personnel safety equipment is available, and that ancillary hazards are addressed. The components of a laser safety program include:

  • Registration of (class IIIa, IIIb, and IV) lasers.
  • Inspection of laser equipment.
  • Investigation of incidents and injuries.
  • Review of laser facility design (plans review).
  • Safety training as needed or requested.

All Hazard Class IIIa, IIIb, and IV lasers should be registered with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEH&S). Any acquisition, transfer or removal of laser devices in these classifications should be made known to the Office. Laser devices that are assembled at the University may receive a hazard class evaluation by contacting OEH&S at 476-5303. Laser devices which require registration include:

  • Therapeutic devices for use in surgery, dermatology, ophthalmology, dentistry.
  • Optical bench-top lasers.
  • Light sources for microscopy, measurements.

Class I devices do not require registration. These include laser printers, imaging devices, and telecommunication devices. Some equipment such as cell sorters, particle counters, have laser cavities that are accessible by the user. These devices (which ordinarily would be considered to be hazard class I) should be registered so that the safety interlocks or protective optical filters may be checked periodically. An inspection can be scheduled by calling OEH&S at 476-5303. Laser safety inspections include a survey of:

  • The protective housing.
  • Safety interlocks.
  • Labeling.
  • Hazard posting.
  • Indicators.
  • Appropriate personnel protective equipment.
  • Ancillary hazards.

Laser Pointers are used frequently for presentations and if used as directed -- do not point the laser into your own or others’ eye(s), should provide little risk to users or audiences. Many of these lasers are now classified as hazard class IIIa due to their power output. The increased power is in part due to the diodes that are used which produce a red light of a wavelength that the eye is not as sensitive to and so a greater intensity of light is required for adequate visibility. These devices do not require registration with OEH&S, but it is advisable to check for the presence of the required label which includes the:

  • Laser hazard symbol.
  • Laser classification.
  • Maximum laser output.
  • Laser wavelength.

For service, call OEH&S at 476-1300