Did you know that lasers produce directional, high intensity light beams? This energy source is frequently capable of causing significant eye damage, body burns and has the potential to cause electrical shock.
At NIH, laser use for research and medical treatments has grown dramatically over the last decade. With increased use there is potential for increased risk; it is imperative to ensure safe laser use so that researchers can continue scientific and medical breakthroughs here at NIH.
NIH Policy Manual 3036: NIH Laser Safety Program provides guidance and oversight for the safe use of Class 3b and Class 4 lasers and laser systems at the NIH.
Depending on the classification, set-up, and use of the laser(s) in a laboratory, the following may be required:
- Posting of signs;
- Annual training;
- Annual safety inspection;
- Development and annual update of a laser safety Standard Operating Procedure (SOP);
- Other applicable laser control measures.
Contact the Laser Safety Officer (LSO) in DOHS at (301) 496-3353
to determine your status and requirements under the NIH Laser Safety Program.
The NIH Laser Safety Program is modeled after the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z136.1-2014 and incorporates other best practices for the safe use of lasers in research, development, testing, and health care environments. The program focuses on the following areas:
Inventory and registration of Class 3b and Class 4 lasers used on NIH campuses;
Verification and promotion of safe work practices regarding the use of lasers;
Laser safety training and equipment parameters for users;
Proper engineering controls and laser setup within laboratories.
NIH Laser Users Responsibilities
DOHS Laser Safety Services
Verification of laser(s) location(s) and setup once registration has been completed.
Onsite inspection of the laser(s) and evaluation of appropriate engineering controls and safe work practices.
Safety training to all users of Class 3b and Class 4 lasers.
Laser safety SOP templates in addition to other resources.
Laser Safety Training
Watch the online laser safety training presentation.
Following the presentation, take the quiz below and submit to the LSO for review. Note: The documents below should be downloaded and not opened or saved in a web browser. These documents are not compatible with Mac Previewer.
Laser Safety Signage
Laser labs that use Class 3b and/or Class 4 lasers must post specific information using appropriate Laser Safety Signage. The templates below are designed for NIH personnel to modify the information appropriately and print for posting on their laser lab.
Class 3b Laser Sign: If you have a laser lab with Class 3b lasers only, use the Class 3b signage and list all lasers below the laser symbol with their power, wavelength and type.
Class 4 Laser Sign: If you have a laser lab with Class 4 lasers only, use the Class 4 signage and list all lasers below the laser symbol with their power, wavelength and type.
Class 3b and Class 4 Lasers Sign: If you have a laser lab with both Class 3b and Class 4 lasers in the same lab, use the Class 3b & Class 4 signage and list all lasers below the laser symbol with their power, wavelength and type.
- For all signs, list PIs/Lab Supervisors and Emergency Contacts with phone numbers at the bottom.
Laser Safety Database
For questions or to obtain access to the database, please contact DOHS at (301) 496-3353.
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