|What is this about?||To protect persons from laser radiation and provide requirements for the user to establish procedures to ensure safe operation.|
|Who has to do it?||Anyone controlling or using a laser.|
|Why am I required to do this?||To prevent workplace incidents and injuries.|
|When do I have to do this?||When lasers are used for University purposes.|
|What do I do?||1. Identify the hazards|
2. Assess the risks
3. Control the risks
|More info...||Laser Safety Guidelines|
Laser User Registration Form
Laser Equipment Registration Form
All supervisors of the laser equipment and/or laboratories with laser equipment are to ensure that the following are in place:
- The equipment housing the laser complies with the requirements of AS/NZS IEC 60825.1 Safety of Laser products: Equipment classification, requirements and AS/NZS IEC 60825.14 Safety of Laser products: A user's guide
- The supervisor of the equipment has completed and provided a copy to the WHS Unit of the Laser Equipment Registration Form
- A Safe Work Procedure is available on SafetyNet for the laser equipment including all the requirements to work safely including compliance with AS/NZS IEC 60825.1 and AS/NZS IEC 60825.14
- All users receive induction training for the equipment.
- All users are deemed competent to use the equipment which housed the laser.
- The supervisor of the laser equipment has completed and provided a copy to the WHS Unit of the Laser Equipment Registration Form
- Records are available to verify 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 above.
- The entrances to areas or protective enclosures containing Class 3B and Class 4 laser products should be posted with appropriate warning signs.
Working with Class 4 lasers
Lasers are classed according to the hazard level with class 4 lasers being the highest. The power of the laser can be either in a continuous or pulsed mode, with a specified wavelength/colour. Class 4 lasers can cause significant damage to the human body and there are strict requirements for their use.
Class 4 lasers are required to have:
- specific safety protocols including remote interlock
- Beam stop or attenuator
- Warning signs and labelling
- elimination of specular reflections
- use of eye protection where there is a potential eye hazard
- use of protective clothing
- requirement for Medical examination immediately if there is a suspected injury
- provision of appropriate training on safe use of equipment including maintenance
- safe work procedures for control of hazards
Considerations for Workshop and Laboratory design for class 4 lasers include :
- no windows
- an area for storing protective eyewear
- key locks to prevent unauthorised and unprotected personnel from entering (which must be removed from the laser when not in use)
- a non-defeatable door interlock
- signs at entrance to lab
- laser beam path must be enclosed
- beams must be positively terminated
- laser work area must be free of unnecessary specular surfaces
- curtain materials must be fire resistant
- a clearly visible power cut-off switch which kills power to the laser
- a warning light must be located outside of the lab door to indicate when the laser if firing
- other controls as necessary
Laser pointers are hand held, battery operated devices designed or adapted to emit a laser beam that may be used for the purposes of aiming, targeting or pointing. Laser pointers, whilst a useful training tool, can present a hazard that is capable of causing harm to eyes. It is difficult for many people to believe that a device that looks like an ordinary penlight and runs on AAA batteries can be dangerous. However, within each pointer is a small yet powerful laser diode. Laser pointers have recently become relatively common and have unfortunately been misused on humans. An incident in 1999 in Western Australia resulted in permanent eye damage to a 12 year old boy.
Laser classification gives an indication to their degree of hazard:
- Class 1 and 1M lasers are safe for normal viewing under reasonably foreseeable conditions
- Class 2 and 2M lasers would not cause permanent eye damage under reasonably foreseeable conditions. Damage is usually avoided by your blink reflex or aversion response
- Class 3R lasers (previously called class 3A) have the potential to cause eye injury, especially in the hands of an unaware, untrained, or careless operator. The resultant injury can range from temporary flash blinding (similar to a visual after image) to a slight retinal lesion
- Class 3B lasers can cause eye injury but will not generally damage the skin
- Class 4 lasers are extremely hazardous to the eye and skin (either directly or by a reflection).
Laser pointers of Class 1 and 2 are readily available commercially. Unfortunately, 3R lasers can still also be purchased at some shops and at many market stalls. As detailed above class 3R lasers have the potential to cause eye injury and legislation has been introduced in NSW and other states to ban the use of class 3R laser pointers, thus you must check the class and emission level of any laser pointer before you purchase it.
Recent amendments to the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 require a permit be issued (or the person be eligible for an exemption) where the laser pointer exceeds one milliwatt. Penalties of up to two years imprisonment or a fine of up to $5,500 apply. Regardless of the milliwatts, no laser pointer can be carried or used in a public place (but not a school) without a reasonable excuse. That is, in NSW, it is illegal to be in possession of a laser pointer (irrespective of the class) in a public place, which includes the University, without a reasonable explanation that the pointer is required for your occupation, education, training or hobby. For most University staff, this exemption is likely to be sufficient.
Staff requiring use of a 3R laser pointer are to register its use in accordance with the University's Laser Safety Guidelines.
Note: Other state jurisdictions may have different laws and prohibitions.
Laser devices that are used for medical purposes are unlikely to fall within this definition. Similarly, if the device is powered by mains electric power, it is not battery operated and so is not covered by these laws. Various laser measuring or levelling devices used in the building industry should not be affected as they are not ‘pointers’. In addition, they are not held in the hand while being used and so are not ‘hand held pointers’.
Using a laser pointer safely
Laser pointers are effective tools when used properly. The following considerations should be observed when using laser pointers:
- use only laser pointers with AS/NZS IEC 60825.14 classification Class 1 or Class 2. Class 2 lasers are labeled "Caution: Laser Radiation. Do not stare into the beam. Class 2 Laser Product"
- do not use or purchase a laser pointer that has a stated emission level of greater than one milliwatt
- never look directly into the laser beam
- never point a laser beam at a person
- do not aim the laser at reflective surfaces
- do not allow children to use laser pointers unless under the supervision of an adult.
Need more information? Please call the WHS Unit on extension 3931.