Lasers are becoming more common in industry and every day life. For those persons that find themselves in a situation where they are responsible for laser safety without previous experience, the tasks at hand can be intimidating. This presentation details recommended preparations needed to implement laser installations for those that do not have experience in this field. The subtopics described below were used to develop and implement an operating laser laboratory at Northrop Grumman's Airborne Ground Surveillance & Battle Managements System's (AGS & BMS) site in Melbourne, Florida where no such activities were previously performed. Valuable experience was gained and success was realized by performing the preparations identified below.

To implement a laser installation, the following activities should be accomplished according to the Laser Safety Institute of America's Laser Safety Officer Training by David Sliney, PhD:

  • Assign and train Laser Safety Officers (LSOs)

  • Develop a laser safety program

  • Establish an understanding of the hazards posed by lasers, laser processes and support equipment and conduct a comprehensive hazard analysis of each

  • Identify and implement control methods to address hazards

  • Establish training courses for users of lasers and those personnel who may be affected by laser operations

  • Establish medical surveillance programs based on the laser type and ancillary hazards such as noise or air quality

  • Develop procedures related to operation and maintenance of lasers and emergency instructions

  • Audit the processes annually

Each of these topics will be addressed in this paper.

Where to Start?

Once direction was granted to begin the laser project the first task at hand was to determine what standards and regulations were applicable. After researching the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, it was determined OSHA standard 29 CFR 1926.54 exists for lasers associated with the construction industry but there was no specific OSHA standards for general industry. OSHA Technical Manual, Section III, Chapter 6 "Laser Hazards" was consulted. The Technical Manual states that "OSHA citations are issued by invoking the general duty clause or, in some cases, Subpart I." "In such cases, the employers are required to revise their reportedly unsafe work place using the recommendations and requirements of such industry consensus standards as the (American National Standards Institute) ANSI Z 136.1-2000 Standard."

R. James Rockwell, Jr's. book User's Guide for Laser Safety identifies "six major entities concerned with regulations regarding safety of laser systems." These entities are displayed in Figure 1 and include:

  • The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH)

  • The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) - Includes several individual standards addressing specific topics such as safe use of lasers in optical fiber communication systems, health care facilities, hazard evaluation instrumentation, educational institutions, outdoor laser use, and testing and labeling

  • The American Conference of Governmental Hygienists (ACGIH)

  • The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and European Commission (EC)

  • State Government

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.