Managing Risks Associated with Lasers
Updated: Sep 20
Laser users should be aware of the risks involved with their equipment. Not all lasers present the same hazards. Proper understanding and training of the particular laser being used, and its dangers, is necessary to avoid injury.
Laser with visible beams are categorized into four classes.
These relatively weak lasers are not a skin or burn hazard. They do not cause eye damage unless someone stares directly at the beam.
These low powered lasers are not a skin or burn hazard. Laser protective eyewear is generally not necessary.
These lasers are not a skin or burn hazard. Laser protective eyewear appropriate for the beam's power and wavelength is recommended.
These lasers can burn skin and cause permanent scarring. some types of material will burn. Laser protective eyewear is essential.
Infrared lasers, used commonly in industrial settings, pose invisible risks to the user. The eyes cannot detect infrared, so they must always be protected from exposure.
Federal Codes and Regulation (CFR) in the US and IEC codes internationally define laser classes and impost required safety regulations. They mandate manufacturer warning labels and outline specific safety measures for laser operators. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides control measures for laser hazards in the US. For example, ANSI Z136.3 provides guidance for the safe use of lasers in health care. ANSI Z136.9 provides standard policies of safe use of lasers in manufacturing environments. EN is the European standard.
Certified Laser Safety Officers (CLSO) ensure that compliance with all standards is being met. They can recommend appropriate laser safety eyewear and signage that warns that lasers are in use. Window coverings, such as laser curtains, blinds, or shutters must be in place to prevent laser radiation from escaping through the glass.