Laser owners have the fundamental responsibility to provide for the safe use of lasers within their facility and to implement safety programs to adequately control the hazards associated with laser use.
Laser light, because of its special qualities, poses safety hazards not associated with light from conventional sources. The safe use of lasers requires all operators, and everyone near the laser system, to be aware of the dangers involved. Users must be familiar with the instrument and the properties of coherent, intense beams of light.
The safety precautions listed below are to be read and observed by anyone working with or near the laser. At all times, ensure that all personnel who operate, maintain or service the laser are protected from accidental or unnecessary exposure to laser radiation exceeding the accessible emission limits listed in ‘Performance Standards for Laser Products,’ United States Code of Federal Regulations, 21CFR1040 10(d).
The greatest concern when using a laser is eye safety. In addition to the main beam, there are often many smaller beams present at various angles near the laser system. These beams are formed by specular reflections of the main beam at polished surfaces such as lenses or beamsplitters. While weaker than the main beam, such beams may still be sufficiently intense to cause eye damage.
Laser beams are powerful enough to burn skin, clothing or paint even at some distance. They can ignite volatile substances such as alcohol, gasoline, ether and other solvents, and can damage light-sensitive elements in video cameras, photomultipliers and photodiodes. The user is advised to follow the precautions below.