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Safety Programs--Laser Safety

Laser Safety


Laser Personal Protective Equipment

Optical Radiation: Laser Protection Laser Safety Laser work and similar operations create intense concentrations of heat, ultraviolet, infrared, and reflected light radiation. A laser beam, of sufficient power, can produce intensities greater than those experienced when looking directly at the sun.  Unprotected laser exposure may result in eye injuries including retinal burns, cataracts, and permanent blindness. When lasers produce invisible ultraviolet, or other radiation, both employees and visitors should use appropriate eye protection at all times.

Determine the maximum power density, or intensity, lasers produce when workers are exposed to laser beams. Based on this knowledge, select lenses that protect against the maximum intensity. The selection of laser protection should depend upon the lasers in use and the operating conditions. Workers with exposure to laser beams must be furnished suitable laser protection. [1926.102(b)(2)]

Laser Eye Protection

See the following links below for eye protection selection. 

OSHA's eye and face protection etool




































Appendix A

Laser Safety Evaluation Form



1.0           Overview

The Brigham Young University Laser Safety program includes the following major elements:

-      Overall administrative control of the Laser Safety Program resides with the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee. This Committee reviews and approves all principal investigators, and laser control areas. Committee approval is also required for protocols involving risk factors not listed in the initial control area approval. The Laser Safety Officer serves as a consultant to the Committee.

-      A Laser Safety Officer (LSO) is appointed to maintain day to day supervision of the Laser Safety Program. The LSO inspects control areas, checks standard operating procedures and provides training and consulting resources to laser users and the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee.

-      A laser control area is established for all high power lasers. The control area is established through physical barriers, interlocks, warning signs and administrative procedures to reduce the risk of personal injury associated with the use of high power lasers.

-      A comprehensive well documented training program must be in place for all people entering the potential danger area of a high power laser (the danger area is termed the nominal hazard zone or NHZ).

-      Medical surveillance is required for all people working in the NHZ of a Class 4 laser. Medical surveillance includes a baseline eye examination with annual follow-up exams. A final optical evaluation is conducted at the termination of laser use.


2.0       POLICY


Brigham Young University students and employees, who enter the NHZ of a high power laser or operate a research laser, will adhere to the stipulations found in the University Laser Safety Program. Lasers classified as Class 3b or Class 4 by the FDA are considered high power lasers.


3.0           REQUIREMENTS


Title 29 USC Chapter 15 Section 654            (General Duty Clause)


Title 21 CFR 1040.10 (FDA Laser Regulations)


ANSI Z136.1 (ANSI Laser Standard)

4.0       PURPOSE


This program is designed to minimize the risk of injury or illness associated with both the beam and non-beam hazards produced by high power lasers and to ensure compliance with regulatory laws and standards.


5.0       SCOPE


This program applies to all Brigham Young University employees and students who enter the NHZ of a high power laser or operate a research laser. This program does not cover the use of lasers for entertainment or performances.


6.0       PROCEDURES


            6.1       Control area

                        A control area will be established for all high power lasers. A control area                          includes all locations in which the direct beam or a reflected beam could be                          present above the maximum permissible exposure level (MPE). The MPE is                                     defined by ANSI Z136.1 and is based on the level of laser exposure that can cause                         damage to the skin or eye. The control area will include the following elements:

-      Control areas are under the direct supervision of a knowledgeable principal investigator (PI).

-      Control areas are delimited by physical barriers to prevent unintentional entry into the NHZ. This will typically be a locked door.

-      Control areas have non-defeatable safety latches, entryway, or area interlocks whenever possible. When non-defeatable entry controls are not possible either defeatable or procedural controls or a combination of the two will be used to eliminate the possibility of unintentional entry into the NHZ.

-      Warning signs shall be placed at the entry to the control area. Warning signs will include the beam hazards, a list of authorized persons, and required personal protective equipment. The warning sign will include the standard laser hazard symbol and the word ÒDangerÓ.

-      Control areas will have an audible or visible signal at the entry-way indicating when the laser is being operated at Class 4 levels.

-      The NHZ will be clearly delineated on a floor plan or map of the laser laboratory. The diagram showing the extent of the NHZ will be maintained in the laboratory laser safety manual.

-      Non-beam hazards including laser generated products such as gases and fumes will be mitigated by engineering controls or other appropriate measures.

-      Control areas and protocols involving risk factors not already presented to the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee must be approved by the Committee.


6.2       Beam Height

            The optical path of the laser beam will be below four feet above the normal floor level (walking surface) unless there is a valid scientific need for the beam path to be higher. The Laser Safety Officer and Radiation/Laser Safety Committee will review all protocols that require establishing a beam path more than four feet above the laboratory floor level.


6.3       Beam Path

            The beam path should be clearly delineated, marked or otherwise defined. A beam path intended to go beyond a single room must be approved by the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee.


6.4       Alignment

            A written alignment procedure will be developed for all alignment operations that require the use of a beam intensity above the MPE. Alignment SOPÕs will be approved by the LSO and included in the laboratory laser safety manual.      


6.5       PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

            The PI will create a written PPE assessment. PPE will reduce laser exposures to levels below the MPE. The written PPE assessment will be placed in the laboratory laser safety manual and will include:

-      The optical density (OD) of laser safety eyewear;

-      The wavelength for which the eyewear is required;

-      The calculation used to derive the eyewear OD; and

-      The skin protection required in the laboratory.


            6.5       Specular Reflecting Surfaces

                        No specular reflecting surface, other than the optical elements required to create                             the beam path, will be allowed in close proximity to the normal beam path                          without a written authorization by the PI. Specular reflecting surfaces may                           include items such as rings, bracelets, watches, laminated cards, tools, etc.


6.6       Laser locks

            All Class 4 lasers will be equipped with an instrument lock or code sequence that can prevent the emission of Class 4 intensity laser light. Only authorized operators will have access to the key or code.


6.7       Laser Safety Manual

            A laser safety manual will be located in each laser research laboratory and include the following information:

-      Written alignment procedures;

-      PPE assessment and requirements;

-      OD calculations for eyewear;

-      Administrative controls and procedures; and

-      A copy of this Laser Safety Program.




7.1 The Radiation/Laser Safety Committee:  

-      Approves PIÕs to use high power lasers based on their education and experience;

-      Approves control areas for the use of high power lasers based on the description of the laser, anticipated experimental protocols, physical characteristics and procedural controls as defined by the PI.

-      Reviews all laser accidents involving personal injury.

-      Approves open beam experiments not defined, or beyond the scope of, the original approval process.


7.2       The LSO

-      The LSO serves as a consultant to PIÕs and the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee in implementing the Laser Safety Program.

-      The LSO classifies or verifies classification of all high power lasers.

-      The LSO reviews control areas to assure that required control measures are in place.

-      The LSO evaluates alternative control measures and makes recommendations concerning these proposals to the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee


            7.3       Principal Investigators

-      Ensure that students and employees working in a laboratory with a Class 3b or Class 4 laser receive the proper training, as outlined in section 8.0 of this program.

-      Select and procure appropriate laser safety eyewear.

-      Prepare and maintain a Laser Safety Manual that includes specific laboratory policies and procedures.

-      Submit user authorization information to the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee.

-      Submit facility authorization information to the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee.


7.4       Students and Employees

-      Follow the guidelines, rules, and provisions found in this program, and use the appropriate personal protective equipment and procedures put in place by the PI.


8.0       TRAINING


All students and employees falling within the scope of this program are to be trained upon initial job assignment and at least annually thereafter. Training must also be provided, when an existing job task is altered, or when a person is required to perform a new job task that warrants such training.


8.1 Training must include at least the following elements:

-      Instruction on fundamentals of laser operation (physical principles construction, etc.);

-      Training on biological effects associated with laser radiation;

-      Description of the significance of specular and diffuse reflections;

-      Instruction on non-beam hazards of lasers to include electrical hazards, reaction by-products, laser produced gases, metal fumes, etc.;

-      Information on ionizing radiation (if produced);

-      Description of laser classification;

-      Information on laboratory specific procedures;

-      Delineation of laser safety responsibilities;

-      Information on management structure and reporting lines;

-      Description of medical surveillance procedures; and

-      Training on CPR (if work involves exposed high voltage devices).


8.2       The PI will maintain a training record for each person working in a laser control area. Training records will be kept for at least three years. The training records will include:

-      The training date;

-      The content or a summary of the training session; and

-      The names and qualifications of persons conducting the training.




9.1           The Radiation/Laser Safety Committee will review the Laser Safety Program at least annually.


9.2           The Laser Safety Officer will check all control areas at least once per year and submit an annual laser safety report to the Radiation/Laser Safety Committee. The Laser Safety Evaluation form found in Appendix A will be used by the LSO in conducting annual control area reviews.










10.0     APPENDIX



Laser Safety Evaluation


Control Area (Laboratory)          PI _____________________




Evaluator (LSO):______________________


Yes = laboratory has appropriate systems, controls or records in place.

No = Laboratory lacks appropriate systems, controls, or records.

NA = This item does not apply to this control area.



Evaluation Basis





The laboratory is supervised by an authorized (RLSC) PI





The control area was approved by the RLSC





Laser hazard symbol and the word Danger are prominently displayed at the entrance to the control area.





A list of authorized personnel and required PPE is posted near the entrance to the control area.





A warning light or other alarm at the entrance is clearly discernable indicating when the laser is being operated at Class 4 power levels.





Entrance into the control area is restricted by a key, interlock, or other appropriate procedural or administrative control.





A diagram, map or floor plan indicating the extent of the NHZ is in the Laser Safety Manual





Written PPE assessment and requirements are in the Laser Safety Manual





OD calculations for laser safety eyewear are in the PPE assessment





The beam path is clearly defined for people working in the laboratory





The beam height is at or below 4 feet above the surrounding walking surface





A laboratory policy concerning specular reflecting objects is in the Laboratory Safety Manual





The laser has a lock or required code that is only available to authorized, trained operators.





Training records are available for all people authorized to enter the NHZ





Training covers the following topics:





a. Non-beam hazards





b. Laser fundamentals





c. Biological effects of lasers





d. Specular and diffuse reflection





e. Laser classification





f. Laser safety responsibilities and administrative structure





g. Medical surveillance procedures





h. Laboratory specific procedures (alignment etc.)





i. CPR (if potential high voltage exposure exists)





Appropriate personal protective equipment was available in the laboratory





Appropriate personal protective equipment was used in the laboratory





A laboratory policy for medical surveillance is available in the Laser Safety Manual






Content date: 1 January 2012
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