Laser Safety info page

Lasers are capable of producing intense, collimated beams of light at specific wavelengths in the visible, ultra violet and infrared part of the spectrum. While lasers vary greatly in power output, wavelength and purpose, the hazard potential for eyes and skin can be significant due to the concentrated energy density.


Laser Safety

@ IOF

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Laser Safety

@ ISTA Campus

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Laser Safety Training

Every scientist or staff member working with lasers as well as staff with access to laser labs e.g. construction workers, cleaning personal need to be trained for laser safety. This is regulated by Austrian law (VOPST). To get your laser safety permissions including room access at ISTA you need to get trained in person by the laser safety officer. Please contact LaserSafety@ist.ac.at  via email.

An annual refresher in Laser Safety is mandatory to keep all your permissions active. You will receive a reminder from ICP (ISTA Control Panel) via email, four weeks before your room access expires. You can find the online moodle refresher courses here:

 


Laser classifications

Lasers are devided into seven classes according to their accessible emission limits. From Class 3 and above additional safety measures and area labeling is required. At ISTA lasers are labelled according to their specification and not to accessibility of the beam.

Class 1

Laser radiation is safe under all conditions of normal use. This means the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) of 1 mW cannot be exceeded when viewing a laser with the naked eye or with the aid of typical magnifying optics (e.g. telescope or microscope).

Class 1M

Emit in the wavelength range of 302.5 – 4000nm and produce large-diameter beams or beams that are divergent.  A Class 1M laser is safe for all conditions of use except when passed through magnifying optics such as microscopes and telescopes.The MPE for a Class 1M laser cannot normally be exceeded unless focusing or imaging optics are used to narrow the beam.

Class 2

The laser radiation is only within the visible range from 400 – 700 nm. For short term exposure (blink reflex; 0.25 sec) it is save for the human eye. (P < 1 mW)

Class 2M

Are similar to Class 2 however viewing may be more hazardous if the user employs focusing optics within the beam. As with class 1M, this applies to laser beams with a large diameter or large divergence, for which the amount of light passing through the pupil cannot exceed the limits for class 2. 

Class 3R

Emit in the wavelength range 302.5 – 106nm and have the potential to cause damage to the eyes from intra-beam viewing but the risk is lower than for Class 3B lasers. Precautions are required to prevent both direct viewing and viewing with optical instruments. (P < 5 mW)

class 3B

Are more hazardous because of either higher output or operation outside visible wavelengths. In addition, beam reflections may also be hazardous. Direct beam viewing is hazardous for the eyes and in particular cases also for the skin and should be avoided at all times. (P < 500 mW)

class 4

Are high power devices capable of producing eye damage even from diffuse reflection. They may cause skin injuries and could also constitute a fire hazard.

Health risks of laser usage

eyes

Eyes are the most susceptible to damage from lasers. Different parts of the eyes are susceptible to different wavelengths. Damage can occur from heating, photochemical reactions and explosive rupture. Properly matching laser safety goggles are essential to prevent ocular damage.

skin

Skin is less at risk from damage caused by lasers, but exposure still needs to be managed appropriately to minimize the potential for skin burns.

other

In addition to laser radiation, there are additional hazards such as collateral radiation, electrical shock, fire, cryogenics, mechanical hazards, vapours and chemicals, which all need to be considered when completing a risk assessment.

Laser Safety officer

A Laser Safety Officer is a designated staff member who has received training to an appropriate level and is knowledgeable in the evaluation and control of laser hazards. The Laser Safety Officer has the responsibility for the suitable training of laser users. The Laser Safety Officer documents all laser light sources on campus and oversees of the control of laser hazards. At ISTA, a Laser Safety Officer must be appointed where Class 3 or 4 lasers are used.

For further information please contact the Laser Safety Office