Over time, the applications for lasers in biomedical research and in clinical treatments have grown exponentially. This spectrum is on display at NIH, with lasers in use from
optical imaging, where super-resolution microscopy can pinpoint single molecules, to
laser therapies of the eye, where laser treatments may help reduce the probability of vision loss in some patients.
As the number of novel techniques involving lasers grows, so too does the number of personnel who work directly with or around lasers; the majority of institutes at NIH use lasers. Full realization of the benefits of lasers necessitates their safe use by everyone.
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 hazard class, set-up, and use of laser(s), the following may be required:
- Posting of signs;
- Biennial training;
- Annual safety survey;
- Development and annual update of a laser safety Standard Operating Procedure (SOP); and
- Other applicable laser control measures.
The NIH has a Laser Safety Officer (LSO), Deputy Laser Safety Officer (DLSO), and a
Laser Safety Advisory Committee (LSAC) who are actively engaged in promoting laser safety at NIH.
For questions or assistance, please call DOHS at (301) 496-2960 or email
NIH Laser Users Responsibilities
Users of Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers and laser systems
Register all new lasers at time of purchase
Create and annually update a laser safety SOP
Complete laser safety training biennially
Online Laser Safety Presentation
- After viewing 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.)
Post an appropriate laser controlled area (LCA) warning sign
- Areas containing Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers must post LCA warning signs with specific information. The templates below are designed for NIH personnel to modify the information appropriately and print for posting on all entry doors to an LCA.
Class 4 LCA DANGER Sign
Class 4 LCA WARNING Sign
Class 3B LCA WARNING Sign
Temporary NOTICE Sign
Low Hazard Class CAUTION Sign
The LSO and DLSO manage an internal NIH listserv for laser users. In addition to serving as a convenient method to share laser safety information, it can also be used by subscribers to highlight research breakthroughs involving laser use, offer-up unused laser equipment, or educate one another on lesser-known laser applications.
To subscribe, visit
https://list.nih.gov/ and search for the name of the listserv: LASER-IN-USE. To contact the list owner, email LASER-IN-USE-request@LIST.NIH.GOV.
Laser Safety Application
The LSO and DLSO manage an inventory of lasers at NIH using an online application. The application is currently undergoing testing; after the application has been finalized, an individual from each group of laser users will be granted access to manage their group's laser inventory and program requirements.
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