Workplace Laser Safety Issues and the Correct use of Personal Protective Equipment
Lasers have so many amazing applications. They can both cut through the hardest steel and the most delicate human eye tissues. They provide so many benefits yet can be so dangerous when not properly handled.
Lasers first came into being in the 1960’s. They are used for 3D imaging, making pinpoint accurate measurements, in medicine and by the military. Consequently, laser related injuries have been on the rise. The severity of any injury is related to the energy or power density of the beam and the absorption rate and length of exposure to the tissue. Unfortunately, there has also been a significant increase in injuries and the potential for catastrophic accidents related to misguided use of laser pointers in airline cockpits. Laser safety awareness is essential to increase public awareness of the hazards these pranks create.
ANSI Standard for Laser Safety
Although there are no U.S. mandatory laser safety protocols, the ANSI has created the Z136 standards for laser safety (https://webstore.ansi.org/Standards/LIA/ANSIZ1362014?gclid=Cj0KCQjw_viWBhD8ARIsAH1mCd4-b7-0tFa7o1uBx2IscmkS_vInRiq_eEcC9zMhDGDe_3BhsGtPppwaAvL6EALw_wcB), and OSHA bases its guidance on these standards. Awareness and training, particularly in specific laser applications, is crucial. The exponential growth in the number of laser applications and their importance is unquestionably one of the key drivers in the US and world economies. Employment in this field is expected to experience continued robust growth and offers high starting salaries.
Responsible laser safety awareness is the key to ensuring a safe workplace.
OSHA PPE Guidelines
OSHA has a number of assessment pages selecting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use in the workplace at https://www.osha.gov/personal-protective-equipment and https://www.osha.gov/personal-protective-equipment/hazards-solutions. In addition to PPE, lasers and work spaces must be properly labeled to warn of the type of potential hazards and how to avoid them. If you work with lasers, these labels and placards are commonplace but don’t take them for granted.
For class 3 and 4 laser workplaces, a Laser Safety Officer (LSO) is required to administer your workplace laser safety program. The LSO educates and trains each employee in the proper use of PPE such as:
• When, what type and limitations of PPE
• How to put on and remove PPE
• Care, maintenance and disposal of PPE
• How to respond to an emergency
• Written certification and acknowledgement of the training by the employee
Employers are subject to fines if unable to prove they provide adequate laser safety training.
Here are some tips to help you survive an OSHA inspection:
• Have laser safety policies, rules and procedures in place and demonstrate that they are easily accessible by employees.
• Be able to provide the location, class and use of every laser in your facility.
• Provide a list of personal protection equipment (PPE) required for the lasers your employees are using and demonstrate compliance.
• Keep detailed training records at your fingertips.
• Have a laser accident response plan and show that your LSO is prepared for rapid response.
• Ensure your lasers are properly labeled according to federal standards.
• Require your employees obtain a laser safety certificate.
Requiring that each of your employees become laser safety certified should be a key part of your laser safety program. It’s easy…Get started today.
How Laser Safety Certification can help
For more information about industrial laser safety, check out our courses for Industrial Laser Safety and Industrial LSO certification. We have laser safety certification courses for Industrial, Cosmetic or Medical/Healthcare and Veterinary laser users. We also have Laser Safety Officer certification courses to help organize your company laser safety program. We base this training on the current OSHA Technical Manual sections that apply to laser hazards. We can also provide laser safety training kits and bundles to help your LSO administer your laser safety program to protect your team as well as your customers.
Get started today by enrolling your company. We also have an FAQ section with common answers about our courses, certification options and kit offerings. Or send us an email at email@example.com if you want more information about how we can help your business use lasers safely while protecting your employees and your customers.