Lasers and laser systems are in use everyday by individuals in virtually all fields of occupation. Industry makes use of lasers in all kinds of consumer products, which utilized for their appropriate purpose do not pose a hazard to the public. Lasers however do present a very real danger in the research community when not used properly or when individuals do not use appropriate protective equipment to prevent injury from the laser light.
Classification of lasers relates to the potential for the laser beam to cause injury and not from any ancillary hazards that may be present with the laser system.
ANSI, OSHA, and the CDRH. classifications vary according to the class of laser. The following classifications are a general outline incorporating all three schemes. Specifics on the classifications may be found by referencing the standards and the regulations. These are available from the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (ESSR) and the RSO.
VI-16.00(A) - UMD Policy on Occupational Exposure to Laser Light (Laser Safety Plan)
ANSI.Z136.1 - 2000 Safe Use of Lasers
Laser safety training, documentation, inventory, standard operating procedures (SOPs), inspections, and protective equipment are some of the standard requirements of the plan.
For users of Class III and IV lasers training is required. For all other classes of lasers it is recommended that users contact the Laser Safety Officer to discuss training. All employees should be provided with information and training regarding the hazards of the lasers in their work area. Employees should be informed of:
The laboratory supervisor/principal investigator is responsible for training all laboratory workers on the specific operations, safety features, emergency procedures and SOPs which apply to their facility and laser(s) in use.
Reporting requirements are per the Laser Safety Plan and involve documentation of training and inventory of lasers by the principal investigator and/or lab supervisor.
The Laser Safety Officer conducts inspections of laser facilities in the presence of the principal investigator and/or lab supervisor. Inspection findings are forwarded to the investigator denoting areas of noncompliance with the plan.
Records of training and inventory must be kept by the investigator in each department and the Laser Safety Officer.
The Laser Safety Plan constitutes the written program.