Laser Work in a Laboratory

Hazards

  • Eyes:

    • The entry of even a very weak laser beam into the eye can cause partial or complete loss of sight in that eye. The risk is present even for stray reflections off optical surfaces and it is such stray reflections that have caused serious incidents in the past.
  • Skin:

    • Ultra-Violet lasers can burn and induce cancer (as for sunburn). The more powerful lasers of any wavelength can burn the skin.
  • Most primary lasers use high currents and voltages internally so following the manufacturer's instructions for any maintenance procedures is important.
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Precautions

  • Use the lowest laser output possible.
  • Totally enclose the laser system or use shields to constrain the laser beams. Note particularly that shields must be checked after even minor adjustments or realignments of optical systems.
  • Wear laser blocking goggles.
  • Clearly designate and restrict access to the laser area (particularly anywhere in the line of sight) to laser trained personnel.
  • Ensure laser beams (including stray reflections) constrained to one level (well below eye level).
  • Remove all reflective surfaces from laser area (including wristwatch faces and similar objects); securely mount all optics.
  • Follow proper procedures when aligning laser beams.
  • The Purchasing, Safety and Security Office must be notified of all class II and above lasers.
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Training Prerequisite

Laser work, except with class I lasers, is in risk category B, so NO LASER WORK WITH CLASS II AND ABOVE LASERS MAY BE UNDERTAKEN UNTIL THE WORKER IS SUITABLY TRAINED.

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Level of risk remaining

It is not possible to remove the risk entirely for some laser work, but the risk is low if the taught procedures are followed.

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Emergency Action

Switch off laser; seek medical advice if eye damage is known or suspected.


Back to Completed Risk Assessment Forms

Adapted with permission from School of Chemistry, University of Bristol

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