Laser Safety Guide
Administrative and Procedural Controls
- Standard Operating Procedures:
One of the more important of the so-called administrative and procedural controls
is the written Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The ANSI Z-136.1 standard requires
an SOP for a Class IV laser and recommends SOP's for Class IIIB lasers.
The key to an effective SOP is the involvement of those individuals that operate,
maintain and service the equipment in the preparation along with guidance from
the LSO. Most laser equipment is provided with instructions for safe operation
by the manufacturer, however sometimes these are not well suited to a specific
application due to special use conditions.
- Alignment Procedures:
One of the highest rate of laser eye accidents occurs during alignment tasks.
Such procedures must be done with extreme caution. A written SOP is recommended
for all recurring alignment tasks.
- Limitations on Spectators:
Persons unnecessary to the laser operation should be kept away. For those who
do enter the laser area, appropriate eye protection and instruction is recommended.
- Protective Equipment:
Protective equipment for laser safety generally means eye protection in the form
of goggles or spectacles, clothing and barriers and other devices designed for
Laser protective eyewear includes special prescription eyewear using high optical
density filter materials or reflective coatings (or a combination of both) to
reduce the potential ocular exposure below MPE limits. Some applications, such
as use of high power excimer lasers operating in the ultraviolet, may also dictate
the use of a skin cover if chronic (repeated) exposures are anticipated at exposure
levels at or near the MPE limits for skin. In general, it is recommended that
other controls be employed rather than reliance specifically on the use of protective
eyewear. This argument is predicated on the fact that so many accidents have occurred
when eyewear was available but not worn. There are many reasons cited for this,
but the most common is that laser protective eyewear is often dark, uncomfortable
to wear and limits vision.