GUIDELINES FOR SAFE USE OF LASERS
- During alignment and use of class 3B and 4 lasers, exclude unnecessary personnel from the laboratory.
- Make sure that you have completed laser safety training before working with either a class 3B or 4 laser.
- Never intentionally look directly into the beam of a laser. Do not stare at the light from any laser. Allow yourself to blink if the light is too bright.
- Do not view a Class 3R or higher powered laser with optical instrumentation.
- Never direct the beam toward other people.
- Operate lasers only in the area designed for their use and make sure that the beam is terminated at the end of its use path. Never allow a laser beam to escape its designated area of use.
- Position the laser so that the beam is well above or below eye level.
- Always block beams with a diffuse reflecting beam block that is sufficient to handle the power of the beam.
- Remove all unnecessary reflective objects from the area near the beam’s path.
- When working with lasers never wear jewelry or other items which may cause stray reflections.
- Always wear laser safety glasses of the appropriate optical density when working with class 4 lasers. Safety eyewear is particularly important when working with class 4 invisible beams.
- Only qualified personnel are permitted to work on laser power supplies. Laser repairs must be performed by qualified personnel.
- Never direct a laser beam upward unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Before working with lasers, make sure that all necessary safety parameters are in place as needed including:
- Door Signs,
- Safety Interlocks,
- Laser in use Warning Lights,
- Use of Laser Rated Safety Glasses of the Appropriate Optical Density,
- Beam blocks and terminators, etc.
GUIDELINES FOR THE SAFE ALIGNMENT OF CLASS 3B AND 4 LASERS
- Alignments should only be performed by individuals who have completed laser safety training.
- Exclude unnecessary personnel for the laboratory during alignment procedures.
- Whenever possible, use a low power visible laser to simulate the path of the higher power laser that you are aligning.
- Wear protective eyewear during alignment, and use special alignment eyewear when possible.
- When aligning invisible beams, use beam display devices such as image converter viewers or phosphor cards to verify beam position.
- Perform alignments using the lowest possible power setting for the laser.
- Use a shutter or beam block to block high power beams at their source whenever possible.
- Make sure that beam blocks are laser rated, or are sufficient to safely terminate the beam.
- Use beam blocks and/or protective barriers in conditions where alignment beams could stray into unwanted areas.
- Place beam blocks behind optics to terminate beams that might miss mirrors during alignment.
- Locate and block all stray reflections at the first optical component before proceeding to the next. Repeat procedure until all stray reflections have been accounted for and blocked.
- Double check to insure that all reflections have been properly terminated before beginning high power operations.
Note that 90% of all laser injuries have resulted from one or more of the first three items on this list.
- Unanticipated eye exposure during alignment
- Misaligned optics and upwardly directed beams
- Available laser eye protection not used
- Equipment malfunction
- Improper methods of handling high voltage
- Intentional exposure of unprotected personnel
- Operators unfamiliar with laser equipment
- Lack of adequate protection from non-beam hazards
- Improper restoration of equipment following service
- Eyewear worn not appropriate for laser in use
- Unanticipated exposure during laser usage
- Inhalation of laser generated contaminants
- Fires resulting from ignition of materials
- Eye or skin injury of photochemical origin
- Failure to follow guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs)
LASER CLASSIFICATION CHART
|1||Very low power lasers that are safe under all conditions of normal use.|
|1M||No known hazards to skin or eyes unless collection optics are employed.|
|2||Visible lasers with no known hazards for exposures of up to 0.25 seconds.|
|2M||Same as class two only may be dangerous if collection optics are used.|
|3R||Visible or invisible lasers with a maxumum power of less than 5 mW.|
|3B||Visible or invisible lasers that may be hazardous under normal conditions, and with a maximum power output of between 5 mW and 0.5 W. Usually not a skin hazard.|
|4||High powered visible and invisible lasers that are an acute eye and skin hazard. The maximum power output is above 0.5 W.|
- All class 3B and 4 lasers must be registered with ESD using the form located on this site.
- Comercially available systems that contain completely embedded lasers are considered to be class 1 systems (flow cytometers, etc.)
- All personnel who intent to work with either class 3B or 4 lasers must first take on line laser safety training.
Responsibilities of the Laboratory Laser Safety Representative (from ANSI Z136.1-2007, Normative Appendix A3.1)
- Be responsible for the issuance of instructions and training materials
- Do not permit laser operation unless controls are adequate
- Submit names of individuals scheduled to work with lasers to the LSO
- Immediately notify the LSO of laser accidents
- Assist employees involved in an accident in obtaining medical attention
- Do not permit operation of a new or modified laser without approval of the LSO
- Submit plans for installation or modifications to installations to the LSO
- Be familiar with the laser SOPs
Responsibility of Employees Working with Lasers (from ANSI Z136.1-2007, Normative Appendix A3.2)
- Energize or work with lasers only when authorized to do so
- Comply with safety rules and procedures
- Notify supervisor or LSO in case of potential accident or injury
Responsibilities of the UGA Laser Safety Officer (from ANSI Z136.1-2007 Normative Appendix A 1.2)
- Establish and maintain policies and procedures
- Classify lasers or verify hazard class
- Perform hazard evaluation of laser work areas
- Specify control measures and assure implementation
- Approve procedures and SOPs
- Recommend and approve protective equipment
- Approve signs and labels
- Approve facilities, equipment, and modifications of the same
- Assure adequate training of laser personnel
- Determine personnel categories for medical surveillance
- Maintain records
- Perform periodic safety audits
- Investigate laser accidents
- Approve laser systems operation