Laser Safety

Radiation Protection Services (RPS) has the responsibility to develop and implement the radiation safety program at Stony Brook University. This guide is provided to aid you in recognizing your responsibility for laser safety and acts as an introductory laser safety trainer.

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Laser Hazards

The engineering aspect of designing laser should incorporate safety considerations to prevent exposure of personnel to potential harmful conditions.

The basic hazards from laser equipment can be categorized as follows:

Laser Radiation

Corneal or retinal burns (or both), depending upon laser wavelength, are possible from acute exposure; and corneal or lenticular opacities (cataracts), or retinal injury may be possible from chronic exposure to excessive levels.
Skin burns are possible from acute exposure to high levels of optical radiation. At some specific ultraviolet wavelengths skin carcinogenesis may occur.

Chemical Hazards

Some laser materials (i.e. eximer, dye, and chemical lasers) may be hazardous or toxic substances. In addition, laser induced reactions can release hazardous particulate and gaseous products.

Electrical Hazards

Lethal electrical hazards may be present, particularly in high-power laser systems.

Other Secondary Hazards

These include:

  • Cryogenic coolant hazards from some research laser
  • Excessive noise from some very high energy lasers
  • X-ray from faulty high-voltage(> 15 kV) power supplies
  • Explosions from faulty optical pumps lamps
  • Fire hazards

Associated Hazards

In additional to radiation hazards inherent in laser beams, other forms of potential danger exist in various components of laser systems. Electrical energy is utilized in most lasers and chemical hazards abound as well. Cryogenics, bottled gas, combustibles, X-rays and especially mechanical hazards are all associated with laser operations. These hazards must be considered in the laser environment and laser personnel training is required to complete the safety orientation.

Appropriate warning signs are essential in describing associated hazards; such as the location of high voltages, corrosive and toxic chemicals and high-pressure gases.

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