Laser Classification Refresher

  • Posted on Jan 15, 2020

The Laser Safety Officer (LSO) is responsible for identifying the classification of equipment in the lab or work space.  If there is a laser system that is custom built or has been modified, it is up the LSO to classify the system.

Here is a laser classification refresher:

  • Laser Classifications:
    • Class 1 systems are not capable of damaging the human body or eyes.  This is either because the radiation level they produce is not dangerous, or they have a higher power laser embedded in the system that has the appropriate safety control measures. 
    • Class 1M systems are not capable of damaging the human body or eyes unless viewed with a collecting optic (an optical element which collects the light and focuses it).  These systems do not require safety control measures.
    • Class 2 systems are safe in that the human eye’s natural reflex to avert keeps it from absorbing too much radiation before it is damaged.  These lasers must be in the visible spectrum (400-700 nm).
    • Class 2M systems are safe in the same way that Class 2 systems are, with the aversion response of the human eye, but can be potentially dangerous when viewed with a collecting optic.
    • Class 3R systems can be potentially hazardous if the beam is viewed directly or is viewed reflecting off of a specular surface.  However, the probability of injury is small.
    • Class 3B systems are also potentially hazardous if viewed directly or through specular reflection.  However, they do not pose a fire hazard.
    • Class 4 systems are hazardous to the skin and eyes under direct incidence, and also pose a fire hazard.  They are also capable of producing dangerous plasma radiation and air contaminants.

The employer is responsible for providing a laser safety program within the company to all employees who might come in contact with laser systems of Class 3B and Class 4.  The employer is also responsible for performing hazard evaluation of each system and its corresponding workspace.

If you need a designated laser safety officer, click on programs for a description. At $149 our course is a bargain AND you can bundle it to set up your company’s laser safety training program.

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