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Laser Safety at Oakland University: 

Laser Safety at Oakland University Domenico Luongo Laboratory Compliance Officer


Agenda Introduction: Laser Basics Intro to the OU Laser Safety Program/Manual Laser Beam Hazards Associated Hazards Regulation and Safety Standards Laser Hazard Classification PPE and Control Systems Summary

Introduction : 

Introduction LASER : Acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Course will cover general LASER safety with Site Specific Safety to be covered by your supervisor.

Lasers Used in the Departments : 

Lasers Used in the Departments Applications ranging from CD-Players, microscopy, industrial welding and bar-code scanners. Lasers are currently being used by Physics, Biology and Engineering Each department using lasers will have a designated Laser Safety Officer

OU Laser Safety Manual: 

OU Laser Safety Manual Topics Covered Definitions Management Responsibilities Employee Responsibilities Control Measures Personal Protective Equipment

Laser Light Properties: 

Laser Light Properties Monochromatic: light consists of one color or wavelength as opposed to sun light which has multiple wavelengths. Directional: Beam is concentrated, tight and focused so it does not spread. Coherent: The beam moves in organized wave fronts.

Laser Types: 

Laser Types Continuous Wave Pulsed (Q-switched)

Laser Function: 

Laser Function

Laser Beam Hazards - Biological: 

Laser Beam Hazards - Biological Eye Injury Thermal Injury

Laser Beam Hazards and the Eyes: 

Laser Beam Hazards and the Eyes

Associated Hazards: 

Associated Hazards Hazards that are not associated with the beam itself Electrical: Lethal electrical hazards from high power lasers. Chemical: Eximer, dye and chemical lasers, and welding or cutting fumes Non-Beam Optical: UV, Infra Red, or Visible Light Compressed Gasses: Asphyxiation or explosion Cryogenic: coolant hazards Noise Fire and Explosion Collateral Radiation: Radio Frequency or X-ray

Warning Signs : 

Warning Signs Posted outside each entrance where laser is used (Class 3b and Class 4) Appropriate Signal Words required - “Caution”: used for Class 2 and certain Class 3a lasers - “Danger”: used for certain Class 3a, Class 3b or Class 4 lasers.

Warning Signs (Example: Class 2-3a): 

Warning Signs (Example: Class 2-3a)

Warning Signs (Example: Class 4): 

Warning Signs (Example: Class 4)

Warning Signs (Example: Notice): 

Warning Signs (Example: Notice)

Regulations & Safety Standards: 

Regulations & Safety Standards There are no specific regulations written by MIOSHA or OSHA governing the use of Lasers. Both will site the General Duty Clause and the requirements created by the American National Standards Institute

Regulations & Safety Standards: 

Regulations & Safety Standards ANSI Standard (Z136.1) American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approves the current laser safety standards Classifies Lasers according to intensity and whether pulsed or continuous wave. Requires each laser to have a label affixed near the beam outlet indicating the Class. Class 1 and 2 are typically harmless, Class 3 and 4 are considered harmful.

Hazard Class 1 and 1a: 

Hazard Class 1 and 1a Class 1: Exempt lasers or laser systems that are not hazardous under normal operating conditions or lasers that are enclosed so that they are intrinsically safe. Class 1a: Special lasers not intended for viewing

Hazard Class 2 and 2a: 

Hazard Class 2 and 2a Class 2 Low power visible lasers or laser systems which because of the normal human aversion responses, do not normally present a hazard, but may be hazardous if viewed for prolonged periods of time. Class 2a Low power visible lasers or laser systems not intended for prolonged viewing (viewed directly for less than 1,000 seconds).

Hazard Class 3a and 3b: 

Hazard Class 3a and 3b Class 3a Lasers or laser systems that normally would not produce a hazard if viewed for only momentary periods with the unaided eye. They may present a hazard if viewed using collecting optics. Class 3b Lasers or laser systems that can produce a hazard if viewed directly

Hazard Class 4: 

Hazard Class 4 Class 4 Lasers or laser systems that can produce a hazard not only from direct or specular reflections, but also from a diffuse reflection. In addition, such lasers may produce fire and skin hazards.


PPE Eye Protection Enclosure of Beam path preferred control Eye protection specifically rated for the hazard class laser being operated. Types: Goggles, Face Shields, Spectacles or prescription eyeware with rated filtration or reflective coating


PPE Associated Hazards Protection Chemical Hazards: Gloves, Respirators and chemical goggles. Electrical Hazards: Lockout and SOP’s for high power laser systems. EH&S should be consulted for PPE/Control requirements for cryogenically cooled lasers, high noise and x-ray hazards

Control Measures: 

Control Measures Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) Nominal Hazard Zones (NHZ) – Required for Class 3b and 4 lasers.

Control Measures – Class 4: 

Control Measures – Class 4 Remote Interlock Connectors: required for all Class 4 lasers Connected to an emergency master disconnect interlock, room , entryway, floor or area interlock. Beam Stop Attenuators: Permanently attached Prevents access to laser radiation exceeding Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) when laser is not in use.

Control Measures – Laser Area Control: 

Control Measures – Laser Area Control Class 3b lasers and laser systems Warning signs posted at entry and in controlled area Access limited to those authorized and trained Supervisor knowledgeable in laser safety Direct spectator access is limited Class 4 lasers and laser systems ( in addition to above) Clearly marked panic buttons Non-defeatable interlocks

Control Measures – Equipment Labels: 

Control Measures – Equipment Labels All university lasers except for Class 1 must have appropriate warning labels. Protective housing that does not deactivate the laser when removed interlocked, must indicate relative hazard of laser contained.

Summary : 

Summary Laser Beam Hazards Associated Hazards Laser Hazard Classification PPE and Control Systems

Where to Get More Information: 

Where to Get More Information EH&S Radiation Safety Officer Web Standards ANSI Safety Standards ANSI Z136.1 (2000) References ANSI Z136.1 OSHA Technical Manual (TED 1-0.15A), Section III - Chapter 6 (1999, January 20)

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