SC22 - Working with lasers
06 Dec 2010
Yes
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Working With Lasers

No

​​

 

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Contents

Revisions

1​Initial launchDecember 2008
1.1.2Minor revision to comply with DDA regsNovember 2011
1.1.3Changes to training matrixJanuary 2013
1.1.4Changes to audit checklistMay 2013
1.1.5Change to LNP training requirementsFebruary 2014
1.2
Add Document Retention policy AppendixDecember 2014
1.3
Changes to reflect EN 60825-1 and white light lasers​
July 2016
​1.4
​Update to reflect launch of SHE Assure
​October 2018​
​​2.0​
​​​Update following Working with Lasers STFC Safety code audit, Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations and revisions to standards.
​November 2020

NB - The changes to version 2​.0 were considerable and readers should assume that significant portions of the body and Appendices have changed.

1. Purpose​

Lasers emit beams of non-ionising radiation at wavelengths spanning the ultraviolet to the far infrared. The skin and eyes are at risk of injury: thermal burns from visible or infrared laser beams or photochemical injuries from ultraviolet and short wavelength visible laser beams.

For lasers in the visible or near infrared part of the spectrum there is a particular risk of injury to the retina of the eye, resulting in permanent visual impairment. The output of lasers, particularly those that are pulsed, can be so high that not only the main beam but also weak reflections and diffusely scattered radiation may be hazardous.

Lasers are flexible research tools that have widespread application across all disciplines. For lasers whose output presents a significant risk of harm, this flexibility and breadth of use combined with continuing evolution (e.g. higher output from physically smaller devices) creates unique challenges to the control of laser hazards.

There is no single solution that is universally applicable to the management of risks associated with high output lasers. The diversity and innovative nature of laser applications in the research environment generally dictates a flexible approach based on detailed risk assessment to establish effective engineering controls supported, as appropriate, by robust administrative arrangements.

As a last resort reliance on laser protective eyewear may be necessary to address residual risks, but should be minimised so far as reasonably practicable​.

2 Scope

This Code is applicable to all staff, contractors, users and tenants working with lasers at STFC sites.

This code applies to all lasers and laser products except those considered to present no risk (see section 4).

This code deals principally with the beam hazards of using lasers (see Appendix 1); it refers to but does not deal with associated (non-beam) hazards of laser use, including electrical, chemical and secondary radiation hazards. These hazards are described in more detail in Appendix 2, and details of safety precautions relating to these hazards can be found in the relevant SHE safety codes.​

3 Legislation and guidance​

The STFC is required to comply with the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010. Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010.​

3.1 Risk assessment

STFC has a legal duty to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks associated with the work (see SHE Code 6 Risk management).

However, where the work involves the use of hazardous lasers, the assessment must include an exposure assessment and must address matters specified in the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010. Further guidance is given in Appendix 4 of this code

3.2 Risk Management

STFC has a duty to ensure that any risks identified in the risk assessment are either eliminated or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.

3.3 Exposure limitation

STFC has a duty to ensure that exposures of staff do not exceed the exposure limit values specified in annex II of Directive 2006/25/EC Artificial Optical Radiation 2006/25/EC​ . These values are legally binding exposure limits.

3.4 Action plan

If there are areas where the exposure limit values could be exceeded (i.e. where there are open beams of class 3R, class 3B or class 4) STFC is required to demarcate the area, restrict access and post warning signs​.

3.5 Designation of areas

A competent person appointed by the authority of the Director or equivalent, to oversee the control of laser radiation hazards and to be responsible for the implementation of this Code with respect to a defined area of laser installations and/or equipment.

3.6 Information and training

Where staff are working with potentially hazardous lasers, STFC is required to provide suitable and sufficient information and training​.

3.7 Health surveillance and medical examination

Where the risk assessment identifies a risk of adverse health effects to the skin, STFC is required to place those who may be affected under health surveillance. This situation is most likely to arise where there is potential for exposure to scatter from an ultraviolet laser beam. However, for some categories of employee at particular risk, adverse reactions could also be triggered by other wavelengths​.

STFC must provide employees with a medical examination:

  • 3.7.1 If they have been exposed in excess of an exposure limit value
  • 3.7.2 If they suffer an identifiable adverse health effect to the skin that could be attributed to exposure.
  • 3.7.3 Any medical examination must include advice on whether ongoing health surveillance would be appropriate.
3.8 Guidance

This code takes account of accepted good practice as given in the Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2006/25/EC ‘Artificial Optical Radiation’ Good practice guide​ and PD IEC TR 60825-14: 2004 Safety of laser products – Part 14: A user’s guide. Where relevant, the manufacturer’s requirements contained in BS EN 60825-1:2014 Safety of laser products – Part 1: Equipment classification and requirements have also been considered.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Directors shall:
  • 4.1.1 Establish a structure of responsible persons, as described below, to manage safety when working with lasers. These appointments can be made within a single department, several departments or across a whole site.
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  • Appointments
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  • 4.1.2 Delegate the implementation of laser safety responsibilities in one of the following ways, dependent on the size and complexity of laser activities, recording their names in SHE directory.​
  •  
  • 4.1.3 Appoint in writing a single person to take on the duties of overall laser responsible officer (OLRO).
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  • 4.1.4 Appoint more than one OLRO provided that the duties of each do not overlap. Such an option might be useful, for example, if there are several major groupings of laser activities.
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  • 4.1.5 Combine the duties of the OLRO with those of a laser responsible officer (LRO). This option might be appropriate if there is only one small laser activity.
4.2 Supervisors and Line Managers shall:
  • 4.2.1 Ensure that the requirements of this Code are met with regard to laser work for which they are responsible.
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  • Appointments
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  • 4.2.2 ​In conjunction with the OLRO, appoint in writing one or more laser responsible officers (LROs) and deputies as appropriate, to provide day-to-day supervision of all activities that involve high hazard lasers (see Appendix 16). Where low hazard lasers are also in use they will also supervise this work. Where more than one LRO is appointed, their duties must not overlap. Line managers and supervisors may take on the role of LRO
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  • Control of laser work
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  • 4.2.3 Ensure that a risk assessment addressing the matters in Appendix 4 is completed for each laser setup that could give rise to exposures in excess of an exposure limit value (generally those involving class 3R, class 3B and class 4 lasers).
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  • 4.2.4 Where it is reasonably foreseeable that employees at particular risk are present in the workplace, ensure that this is addressed in the risk assessment.
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  • 4.2.5 Ensure that the risk assessment includes an assessment of possible and likely exposures, and comparison with relevant exposure limit values.
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  • 4.2.6 Ensure that laser work does not proceed unless risks identified in the risk assessment have been either completely eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable using the standard hierarchy of controls.
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  • 4.2.7 Ensure that wherever reasonably practicable local enclosure is used to manage the hazards presented by beams from high hazard lasers.
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  • 4.2.8 Ensure that where it is necessary to carry out open beam work with high hazard lasers, the reasons for this are documented.
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  • 4.2.9​ Where a risk assessment shows that staff may be exposed above an exposure limit value, ensure that an action plan is drawn up, recorded and implemented to ensure that this does not happen.
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  • Control of changes to Laser work
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  • 4.2.10 Ensure that before significant changes are made to laser activities (e.g. additional High Risk lasers, major reorganisation of laser layouts etc):
    • The OLRO is consulted;
    • adequate facilities are available for safe use; and
    • the necessary documentation is prepared and submitted to the OLRO.
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  • Training users of low risk lasers
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  • 4.2.11 Ensure that persons working with Low Risk lasers, for which no LRO is responsible, receive sufficient training in the safe use of lasers (See Appendix 17).
4.3 Overall Laser Responsible Officers shall:
  • 4.3.1 Implement this Code within the scope of their letter of appointment. This includes the following duties, which may be undertaken with the assistance of a Laser Protection Advisor.
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  • Advice
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  • 4.3.2 Advise and liaise with the Director, Line Managers and Supervisors on laser safety matters.
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  • 4.3.3 Advise Line Managers and Supervisors on the appointment of LROs, particularly with regard to the scope of their approved activities.
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  • 4.3.4 Advise and support LROs in the discharging of their laser safety responsibilities.
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  • Incidents and accidents
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  • 4.3.5 Assist the Director, Line Managers and Supervisors in the investigation of any laser-related safety incidents.
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  • 4.3.6 Establish procedures to ensure that in the event of an apparent or suspected laser injury to the eye, a medical examination by a qualified ophthalmologist is carried out within 24 hours.
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  • Arrangements
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  • 4.3.7 Ensure that arrangements are in place for:​
    • training LROs and LNPs ( Appendix 17);
    • laser classification (if appropriate);
    • inspection of new laser facilities; and
    • regular audits of laser areas.
  • ​ 
  • Control of changes in laser use
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  • 4.3.8 Review outline safety cases for the acquisition or major reorganisation of High Risk laser equipment.
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  • 4.3.9 Review laser safety implementation before and after commissioning of new or significantly changed high hazard laser equipment, checking that appropriate engineering controls and working practices have been implemented and that laser safety documentation as set out in Appendix 14​ has been updated accordingly.
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  • Relaxations of the Code
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  • 4.3.10 ​Approve, if appropriate, discretionary relaxations from requirements of this code provided justification is made in writing by the LRO and approved by the responsible Line Manager or Supervisor. The justification should detail how risks will be controlled.
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  • Inspections
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  • 4.3.11 Undertake/arrange regular (every 18 months) inspection/audit of High Risk laser activities as set out in Appendix 8
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  • 4.3.12 Distribute the reports of inspections and audits as appropriate e.g. to Director, safety committees, Line Managers or Supervisors, LROs, SHE Group etc.
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  • 4.3.13 Monitor the recommendations/findings, from any inspections and audits against deadlines for completion.
4.4 Laser Responsible Officers shall:
  • 4.4.1 Take on specified duties and responsibilities for the day-to-day implementation of this Code for the laser area and/or activity for which they have been appointed.
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  • Arrangements
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  • 4.4.2 Review and approve new or revised risk assessments and standing orders for laser work in areas for which they have responsibility.
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  • 4.4.3 Ensure that high hazard laser beams are fully enclosed unless this is not reasonably practicable.
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  • Appointments and training
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  • 4.4.4 Where appropriate and in consultation with line managers / supervisors, appoint laser nominated persons (LNPs) to undertake specific tasks, setting out in writing, prior to commencement of their work, the constraints on their activities. LNPs may be given specific titles (e.g. target area operator, visiting laser user) if this helps clarify their role and recording their names in SHE directory
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  • 4.4.5 Ensure that prior to commencing their duties, LNPs attend training as specified in Appendix 17​.
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  • 4.4.6 Provide on the job training to all LNPs before they begin laser work, including a review of standing orders. This training should include:
    • the technical and organisational measures in place to manage risks associated with the use of lasers exposure limit values
    • significant findings from the risk assessment(s) relating to work with lasers in the area
    • safe working practices to minimise the risk of adverse effects from work with lasers in the work area
    • proper use of personal protective equipment, where appropriate.
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  • 4.4.7 Approve the proposed work of LNPs and the laser/experimental arrangements and activities prior to commencement of their work.
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  • 4.4.8 ​Ensure that LNPs are suitably supervised when carrying out their work and where appropriate rescind their appointment in the event of cases of breaches in safe practice.
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  • 4.4.9 Ensure that all those working with high hazard lasers are aware of the procedures for real or suspected eye injuries (see Appendix 12).
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  • Establishing safe working with High Risk lasers
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  • 4.4.10 Identify both the beam hazards (Appendix 1) and the non-beam hazards (Appendix 2) and, for work with high and low hazard lasers, produce an optical radiation-specific risk assessment (see Appendix 4) and standing orders for each work area or activity (Appendix 14)​.
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  • 4.4.11 Review and approve new or revised risk assessments and standing orders for laser work in areas for which they have responsibility.
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  • 4.4.12 Based on the results of the risk assessment:
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    • ​Implement controls for normal laser operation (Appendix 7).
    • Implement additional controls for specific High Risk laser activities (Appendix 8).
    • Ensure that so far as reasonably practicable risks are managed through use of enclosures or other equally effective engineering controls
    • Where required, establish a designated laser area (Appendix 9).
    • Where required, ensure the correct labelling of designated laser areas and lasers
    • ​Where required, ensure availability of appropriate laser safety eyewear and its proper storage and maintenance (Appendix 11​)
  •  ​
  • Changes in laser work
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  • 4.4.13 Before implementing major changes in a designated laser area or making significant changes to laser activities (e.g. additional high hazard lasers, major reorganisation of laser layouts etc.), consult and obtain advice from the OLRO.​
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  • 4.4.14 After completion of the changes, complete and submit to the OLRO the new/revised risk assessment and standing orders prior to first operation.
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  • 4.4.15 Ensure that devices with the capability to emit laser radiation, including OEM lasers (i.e. devices that are supplied unclassified and without safety features for the purpose of incorporation into another piece of equipment) are classified or have had their classification confirmed to EN 60825-1, preferably by an EU-based manufacturer or agent, prior to their first use on site. Until such confirmation is obtained a device with the capability to emit laser radiation should be treated as Class 4. For OEM lasers that are incorporated into equipment, the completed unit should be classified to BS EN 60825-1:2014.
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  • For laser pointers see also A7.2.6.
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  • Documentation​
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  • 4.4.16 Prepare full laser safety documentation as appropriate to the class of the laser (Appendix 14)
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  • 4.4.17 Keep all laser safety documentation up to date, review the documents at least annually and forward copies of reissued documents to the line manager or supervisor and OLRO​.
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  • 4.4.18 Maintain lists of Laser Nominated Persons
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  • 4.4.19 Ensure that risk assessments and Standing Orders for each area are made readily available to users of the area.
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  • 4.4.20 For LNPs about to undertake laser work, ensure that the methods, procedures and aims are first agreed in writing and that signatures to this agreement are obtained from the LRO and LNP.
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  • 4.4.21 Where required, approve Permits to Work for laser equipment.
4.5 Laser Nominated Person (staff, tenant, user or contractor) shall:
  • 4.5.1 ​Be aware of the significant findings of the risk assessment(s) for laser work they are involved with and be familiar with the control measures implemented to control those risks.
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  • 4.5.2 Ensure that high hazard laser beams are fully enclosed unless this is not reasonably practicable.
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  • 4.5.3 Be familiar with and abide by the Standing Orders for the area in which they work, and follow the prescribed procedures for the equipment that they are using.
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  • 4.5.4 Work within the constraints placed upon their activities by the LRO.
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  • 4.5.5 Undertake training as requested by the LRO.
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  • 4.5.6 Not defeat interlocks, remove enclosures or otherwise disable / bypass engineering controls, safety features, or warning devices without the prior written approval of the LRO. High hazard lasers must not be operated under these conditions unless all risks have been fully assessed and the identified mitigating actions implemented.
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  • 4.5.7 Where it is necessary to temporarily remove enclosures for the purposes of setting up, alignment, or other adjustment, ensure that they are replaced as soon as it is practicable to do so.
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  • 4.5.8 Not make any significant changes to laser beam paths, beam wavelengths or safety devices, nor introduce new lasers to the laboratory without the authorisation of the LRO.
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  • 4.5.9 Inform their line manager / supervisor or occupational health of any pre-existing eye condition they may have, since this could affect the risk assessment. Occupational Health should hold sensitive personal medical information.
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  • 4.5.10 Be conversant with and follow the procedures for real or suspected eye injuries (see Appendix 12​).
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  • 4.5.11 Where a risk assessment has identified a requirement for the use of laser protective eyewear or other PPE:
    • check that the PPE used is of the correct specification
    • wear PPE when required
    • check the condition of PPE before each use
    • return PPE to correct storage after each use
    • keep issued PPE in a clean and serviceable condition
    • report any damage or loss to the LRO

Contact: Baker, Gareth (STFC,DL,COO)