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GUIDE FOR USING THE LASER RISK ASSESSMENT PROCEDURE

 

Authors: Andrea Bogi, Francesco Picciolo, Iole Pinto, Nicola Stacchini

 Southern/Eastern Tuscany USL Health Agency - Physical Agents Laboratory - Siena

 

 

 

 

STEP-BY-STEP ONLINE PROCEDURE 

 

 

The main goal of this procedure is to support the correct use and management of LASER equipment belonging to different classes in various areas of application, for the purposes of safety, with the aim of preventing risk from exposure to radiation emitted by a LASER system, both for the operators and for all categories of people potentially exposed. The Directive 2006/25/EC prescribes that the methods applied in the assessment, measurement and/or calculation of LASER radiations shall follow the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards.

The main legal reference on LASERs is the technical framework standard IEC/EN 60825-1, with which the manufacturer shall comply for the purposes of CE marking.

This procedure is based on the above mentioned standard and allows the employers and the operators, that do not have the appropriate knowledge in the field of LASER, to identify the correct conditions of use and installation of a LASER system; at the same time, it allows to identify, in a completely independent manner, the conditions of use that are not compliant or inappropriate, without the help of technical specialized personnel; furthermore, this procedure facilitates the purchase and the choice of new machineries, taking into account also the requirements for the installation rooms, depending on the type of LASER that will be installed.

The procedure is targeted in particular to Class 3B and 4 LASERs, due to the increased hazard and management complexity associated with these devices.

The IEC/EN 60825-1 standard describes the different LASER classes and the Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance (NOHD), namely the distance over which the beam does not determine any damage to the eye. The standard prescribes the obligation for the manufacturer to provide the NOHD, if this is relevant for safety management purposes. This parameter, which is of paramount importance for high risk classes, can be used as a starting point for the appropriate safety management of the device: depending on the distance at which the LASER is capable of causing a damage, one can decide which prevention and protection measures to put in place: if the NOHD is only a few centimetres, the use of appropriate personal eye-protection equipment by the operator will be enough; vice versa, in those cases where the NOHD is some meters long, it will be necessary to delimitate a totally isolated controlled access environment with interlocks, inside which the LASER system can be used (Laser Controlled Area), with the mandatory obligation to wear appropriate PPEs for all within this area.

For the essential information concerning the correct assessment of LASER risk and the requirements for the environment where the LASER is used, one can refer to IEC-TR 60825-14 “A User Guide”. 

The standard IEC 60825-4 specifies the requirements for the laser guards used to enclose a LASER source. The requirements for the personal eye-protection equipment are stated in the standards EN 207 and EN 208.

It shall be reminded that in Italy, when a class 4 LASER is used, the appointment of a Laser Safety technician (or a Laser Safety Officer, in the hospital setting) is mandatory. This professional shall have the competences required to manage all the safety aspects for the LASER system used in the company and shall be able to implement the indications provided by the manufacturer of the device, to identify the requirements of the LCA (if required) and the modes of access to it, to verify the compliance of the personal eye-protection equipment with the requirements stated in the Owner's manual of the device, to write the safety regulations, to verify the persistence of the safety requirements and to monitor the correct use of the apparatus by the personnel.

 

Examples of signs to display on each entrance of the LASER controlled area:

 

 

 

 

 

LASER hazard warning sign

 

 

 

The signs to display at the entrance should include those indicated by the manufacturer in the Owner's manual. 

 

 

 

Glossary used within the procedure

 

 

 

 

 

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