Laser Safety

Laser Safety

Laser stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. These operate in the ultraviolet, visible and infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Lasers focus because the light is monochromatic, directional and coherent.

 

laser-safety-1Figure 1. Laser Spectrum. Taken from Laser Safety Training at UW-Madison.

High power lasers can:

-Burn skin

-Severe eye injuries which can result in permanent vision loss.

Causes of Laser Accidents:

-Inadequate training of laser personel

-Alignment performed without adequate procedures

-Failure to block beams or stray reflections

-Failure to wear eye protection in hazardous situations

-Failure to follow approved standard operating procedures or safe work practices

Laser Classifications:

Class 1 – Won’t cause injury during normal operation.

Class 1M – Can cause injury if collecting optics are used, otherwise, no injury risk. M stands for magnification.

Class 2 – Prolonged exposure will cause injury  (> 0.25 seconds).

Class 2M – Can cause injury if collecting optics are used, otherwise, no injury risk (> 0.25 seconds). M stands for magnification.

Class 3R – Unsafe if looking directly at beam, up to 5 times the limit for class 2 visible lasers.

Class 3B – Will cause eye damage if looking directly at beam, but won’t cause damage for diffusive viewing.

Class 4 – Will cause eye and skin damage from both direct and scattered exposure.

 

laser-safety-2

Figure 2. Laser warnings as established by the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). Taken from Laser Safety Training at UW-Madison.

laser-safety-3

 

Figure 2. International Laser Warning Labels. Taken from Laser Safety Training at UW-Madison.

Laser safety is ALWAYS the responsibility of the person operating the laser. One of the most important pieces of equipment when handling lasers are safety glasses. These are always labeled with the wavelength for use and optical density.

laser-safety-4

 

Figure 4. Eyewear labels for laser operation. Taken from Laser Safety Training at UW-Madison.

Safe Alignment

-Most injuries occur when aligning.

-Only trained personal are allowed to align class 3B and 4 lasers.

-Appropriate eyewear is required when handling these.

-The American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers requires approved, written alignment procedures for all class 4  and recommends it for class 3B lasers.

References:

https://www.ehs.wisc.edu/radiationsafetytraining.htm

Courses offered:

Laser Safety Training

*You are able to enroll using the self-registration at Learn@UW through Desire2Learn.