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Laboratory Safety Programs

Laser Safety

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Image of Laser Safety Sign communicating Danger - avoid direct exposure to beam
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Even though lasers may not be a common analytical instrument in the laboratory , the indirect use of lasers in laboratory instrumentation (in the form of embedded lasers-such as the AB 310 Genetic Analyzer) deems it necessary to include laser safety as part of a safety program. The use of an alternate light source (ALS) within the laboratory also makes a laser/ALS safety program a necessity.

In general, this portion of the safety program will focus on:

  • Who is affected
  • Personnel responsibilities
    • Laser Safety Officer
    • Responsibilities of the employer, supervisors, and employees
  • Laser hazard classification
    • Class I, Class II, Class IIA, Class IIIA, Class IIIB, Class IV, Embedded
  • Laser control measures
  • Training
    • Employees assigned to service, maintain, adjust, and/or operate laser/ALS equipment
    • Training can be general (reading the associated equipment manuals) or specific (dealing with a particular instrument)
    • Work in conjunction with the appropriate personnel to design the proper training for the equipment in use

Due to the specialized nature of lasers, the laboratory safety officer may not be able to fulfill the requirements of a laboratory laser safety officer. Therefore, it may be necessary to subcontract or work in conjunction with the municipal safety department and/or industrial hygienist. OSHA Directive PUB 8-1.7 Guidelines for Laser Safety and Hazard Assessment provides guidelines for the assessment of laser safety.22

Read the Laser Safety Guidelines on the OSHA website.

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