Laser Safety in the Laboratory

Course Description:

Today, we’re going to talk about working safely with lasers. During the session we’ll explain the hazards and protective measures associated with the operation of lasers. There is additional training required for people who service and maintain lasers that goes beyond the scope of this training.

Course Duration: 33 minutes

Why “Laser Safety in the Laboratory” Matters:

Lasers can present a variety of serious hazards to workers and cause property damage. However, a laser’s greatest hazard is eye damage. Some produce such bright light that less than a second’s direct exposure can cause permanent blindness. Even lesser exposures can burn your eyes or harm your vision. Damage may not show up for 24 to 48 hours, so you can’t depend on symptoms to tell you that you’re in trouble.

Near-infrared light, which is visible light, from lasers can cause damage to the eye’s retina. Since the retina doesn’t have pain sensory nerves, you probably wouldn’t notice anything was wrong until the area around the retina is burned.

Far-infrared light, which is ultraviolet light, is mostly invisible to the viewer and can cause damage to the cornea and the eye lens.

Key Points:

The key points from this course include:

  • The greatest hazard from lasers is the intense beam of light focused on a small area.
  • Eye damage is the most common injury when using lasers. Failure to wear appropriate eyewear can cause permanent damage or blindness.
  • Engineering controls are the most effective means of protection against all hazards. It is extremely important to check and ensure that all engineering controls are in place and working properly.
  • Administrative procedures are used to back up or supplement engineering controls. They include cautionary signs, labels, and emergency shutdown procedures.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), especially eyewear, must be used to protect you when engineering and administrative controls aren’t enough to completely eliminate laser hazards.
  • Always report accidents or near misses with lasers. Sometimes damage to the eyes from laser exposure may not show up immediately.

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