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Laser Safety Checklist

Ensure the safe use of lasers with laser safety checklists

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What is a Laser Safety Checklist?

A laser safety checklist is a tool used across various industries such as manufacturing, education, and healthcare to ensure the safe use of lasers for work. Laser Safety Officers (LSOs) perform laser risk assessments to identify laser hazards, enforce appropriate control measures, and reduce the risk of eye and skin injuries.

This article will briefly discuss:

  1. why laser safety is important;
  2. answers to laser safety frequently asked questions (FAQs);
  3. digital solution to ensure the safe use of lasers; and
  4. free laser safety checklists you can download, customize, and use.

The Importance of Laser Safety

Laser beams from handheld lasers or laser pointers can cause flash blindness and severe eye injury through direct contact with the retina. That being considered, workers need to be aware and even more cautious of the hazards presented by industrial lasers such as those used for metal fabrication.

In 2018, a Massachusetts-based metalworks company experienced a casualty after a worker was trapped in a laser cutting machine. Laser safety should be prioritized by employees using lasers at work, not only for their personal safety, but also for the safety of others.

Laser Safety FAQs

Laser, or light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, has various applications because of its unique properties. From the precise delivery of energy for cutting and drilling to the ability to control laser wavelength for research and development; the safe use of lasers is critical to maintain a safe work environment. To help you get started, here are answers to the frequently asked questions about laser safety:

Is there an OSHA regulation for lasers?

No. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) currently does not have a comprehensive laser standard but acknowledges that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) provide guidance related to worker protection.

For example, Oregon OSHA specifically recognized ANSI Z136.1-2007 as the industry standard for the safe use of lasers and expects employers to have an LSO who conducts a hazard evaluation of all beam and nonbeam hazards, ensures that all control measures are implemented and followed, among others.

Are all classes of lasers hazardous?

Yes. Even though Class 1 lasers are inherently safe, especially when it is enclosed inside a device such as laser printers and CD/DVD players where accidental physical exposure is highly unlikely, it may still be hazardous if directly viewed with optical instruments such as binoculars or eye loupe.

However, Class 3B and Class 4 lasers emit the most hazardous beams and pose the greatest risk for adverse biological effects. Exposure to direct or scattered radiation from Class 4 lasers can cause permanent vision loss and instantly burn the skin. Materials susceptible to burning such as paper and fabric are also easily damaged and destroyed by Class 4 lasers.

Is PPE the only laser control measure?

No. While personal protective equipment (PPE) is required to keep individual workers safe, total or limited enclosure of beam paths can also effectively control laser hazards. Engineering controls for lasers include posting appropriate laser warning signs and having interlocks on its protective housing.

To apply administrative and procedural controls, make sure that Class 3B and Class 4 lasers are operated by qualified and authorized personnel and that standard operating procedures or SOPs are available, including alignment procedures and limitations on spectators.

Digital Solution to Ensure the Safe Use of Lasers

Get everyone on the same paperless page using iAuditor by SafetyCulture, a safety checklist app you can learn in minutes. Worry less about the risk of unsafe exposure to lasers and have more time to focus on the task at hand. Empower your team with a digital solution such as iAuditor to do the following:

  • Perform laser safety checks using beautiful inspection templates you can create in minutes or customize premade industry checklists from our public library
  • Take/attach photos of laser hazards or control measures and annotate them for improved visual reference
  • Automatically generate laser safety reports the moment you complete an inspection and secure them in the cloud, enabling you to access data from wherever you are.
  • Use iAuditor for free with small teams. Unlimited reports and storage for premium accounts.

Author

Shine Colcol

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.