III. Laser Safety Practices

The following measures are recommended as a guide to safe laser use. Some additional measures may be required for specific laser classes and lasers that emit invisible radiation. See ANSI Z136.1 and Z136.3 for more details, or contact the Laser Safety Officer at 5-8501 for additional information.

Work Area Safety Practices

  • Area entryway controls must be in place in order to minimize potential for injury. The proper warning signs shall be posted.
  • Fire safety equipment shall be readily available.
  • Ensure operation of local and area ventilation systems where applicable.
  • The laser should be used such that the beam path is above or below normal eye level (below 4.5 ft. or above 6.5 ft.) if possible
  • The potential for specular reflections should be minimized by removal of all unnecessary reflective surfaces.
  • Windows to hallways or other outside areas must be provided with adequate barriers or covers when necessary to keep the Nominal Hazard Zone (NHZ) within the room.
  • The active laser never should be left unattended.
  • Warning devices must be installed for lasers with invisible beams to warn of operation.
  • The use of non-flammable materials and non-flammable anesthesia is vital.
  • The beam should never be activated unless directed toward target tissue.
  • A fire extinguisher or pan of water must be within close proximity to the laser procedure room. Please note that water should never be used on or near an electrical device.

Laser Use Safety Practices

  • Perform a laser system safety check prior to each case.
  • Utilize a laser operator in addition to the physician using the laser.
  • Avoid looking into the primary beam at all times.
  • Do not aim the laser with the eye; direct reflections could cause retinal damage.
  • Clear all personnel from the anticipated path of the beam.
  • Before operating the laser, warn all personnel of the potential hazard, and ensure all safety measures are satisfied.
  • Be very cautious around lasers that operate at wavelengths not visible to the human eye.
  • Use proper eye protection when working with a Class 3B or Class 4 laser. Remember that safety glasses provide no protection unless they are worn. Safety glass lenses may shatter or melt when the lens specifications are exceeded. Scratched or pitted lenses may afford no protection. Frequent inspection of protective eyewear is recommended. Eye protection is specific for the type of laser and may not provide protection at laser wavelengths or power levels other than those for which they were designed. See Section IV for more details.