The University of Iowa

Lab News - Laser Safety Basics

Article published 04/24/17

Use of Class 3b and Class 4 lasers involves a number of inherent hazards.  Most people know that lasers can cause serious and sometimes permanent eye damage.  However, laser use can pose a skin exposure hazard, as well as a number of hazards not directly associated with exposure to the beam.  These include fire, chemical or gas exposures, exposure to laser generated airborne contaminants, and electrical hazards.  To help ensure the safety of staff working with lasers, EHS conducts periodic audits in areas in which Class 3b and Class 4 lasers are used.  These audits include an assessment of the following items:

  • Type and condition of protective equipment (eye protection, drapes, beam stops)
  • The nature of the work area (beam path, clutter, flammable materials, reflective surfaces.)
  • Operating and safety procedures
  • Training dates for staff using the laser
  • Signs and labels
  • Control measures for non-beam hazards

As a reminder, all staff working with lasers are required to complete initial laser safety training (available in ICON) prior to working with a laser, and again once every two years.

Please contact the University’s Laser Safety Officer, Gordon Axt at 335-8503 with any questions.