Laser Safety- How to Ensure Your Company Is OSHA Compliant
19 February 2018
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created by Congress as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The purpose of OSHA is to assure safe and healthful conditions in the workplace. OSHA sets and enforces safety standards, as well as providing training, education, and assistance. Most private employers and their employees in the U.S. and its territories are covered by the OSHA act.
OSHA mandates specific standards for laser safety. The standards recognize hazards to the eyes and skin from exposure to direct or reflected laser beams as well as fire hazards. Unprotected exposure to lasers can lead to permanent eye injury and serious burns. Full OSHA standards for laser system compliance can be found at www.osha.gov.
Federal law requires lasers and laser systems to be classified and labeled by the manufacturer. These classifications provide a warning to the user of the hazards associated with the laser’s radiation. The product should be clearly labeled. There are four classifications of lasers based on potential hazards from exposure.
Specific laser safety products must be used in the workplace to protect against hazardous exposure. Certified industrial laser enclosures have laser containment systems. Laser beam shutters and beam dumps are designed to prevent accidental exposure. They are generally controlled by a laser interlock control system that can be operated manually or automatically. Laser blinds, curtains, and screens provide a physical barrier to prevent radiation from escaping through windows. These safety products are often used in hospitals, labs, and production facilities. They should be labeled for compliance standards, which may include U.S. ANSI specification or EN or CE Marking (European Conformity).
Laser safety eyewear comes in a variety of styles including glasses and goggles. Lenses may be glass or polycarbonate. Eyewear should be chosen to block the appropriate wavelength and optical density of the laser beam. The laser’s operating manual may list recommended eyewear. Eyewear should also meet ANSI or CE requirements.
RT Technologies can provide Certified Laser Safety Officers (CLSO) for consulting and to provide laser safety auditing services. RT Technologies also offers customized laser safety training courses that are eligible for American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) credit.