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LASER SAFETY OVERVIEW

PROGRAM TOPICS:

1.0 PURPOSE and APPLICABILITY

1.1

This policy is designed to ensure the safe use of lasers and laser systems at the University of Pennsylvania. This policy does not include the use of lasers at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

1.2

This policy applies to all faculty, staff and students at the University who use lasers.

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2. DEFINITIONS

2.1

"Laser" is defined as a device that emits a coherent, directional beam of light (electromagnetic radiation) through a process called stimulated emission: an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

2.2

Laser Classes: Classes as defined by the American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers for all lasers and laser systems. This system classifies lasers according to their relative hazards and then specifies appropriate controls for each class. Classes include Class 1, Class 1M, Class 2, Class 2M, Class 3R, Class 3B and Class 4.

2.3

"Class 3B laser" is a laser that is capable of causing eye or skin damage if the beam is viewed directly.

2.4

"Class 4 laser" is a laser that is capable of causing eye or skin damage during direct beam exposure or exposure to diffuse reflections or specular reflections.

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3. ROLES and RESPONSIBILITIES

3.1

The Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) assists Principal Investigators in maintaining a comprehensive laser safety program. Services include registration of lasers and laser workers, laser safety inspections, training, coordination of baseline eye examinations, and preparation of required laser warning signs.

3.2

The "Laser Safety Officer" (LSO) is the individual responsible for monitoring laser use and safety. The LSO is authorized to conduct unannounced inspections. The LSO is a member of the EHRS staff.

3.3

Principal Investigators are responsible for wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, attending training, training their staff, developing SOP's for their particular laser and conducting laser activities in a safe manner. The PI is also responsible for assuring all laser users under their supervision are properly trained and conduct laser activities in a safe manner.

3.4

Laser users are responsible for wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, attending training, following PI's SOP's and conducting laser activities in a safe manner.

3.5

The Ophthalmology Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) conducts eye examinations.

3.6

Occupational Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) addresses any employee injuries involved with laser use.

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4. PROCEDURES

4.1   Laser Safety Manual

The University of Pennsylvania has a written Laser Safety Manual describing the programs in detail and is regularly updated.

4.2   Eye Exams

Eye exams are recommended for personnel using Class 3B and Class 4 lasers.  A baseline eye exam establishes a baseline against which ocular damage may be measured. These examinations are performed by, or under the supervision of an ophthalmologist at the Ophthalmology Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Eye examinations are also recommended for laser workers when they leave the University. In the event of any accidental or suspected eye exposure to laser radiation, a thorough eye examination is conducted.

4.3  Laser Inventory and Registration

All lasers and users must be registered with EHRS Laser Safety Officer.

4.4   Hazard Controls

Applicable hazard controls are described in the Laser Safety Manual, depending upon the laser classification and operating conditions. All users are required to abide by the safety procedures and controls outlined in the Laser Safety Manual.

4.5   Laser Safety Inspections

Periodic inspections are conducted of all Class 3B and Class 4 lasers by the LSO.

4.6   Laser Safety Training

All persons who work with lasers are required to receive laser safety training from EHRS. Users must also receive hands on training from the Principal Investigator or from personnel assigned by the Principal Investigator.

4.7   Laser Incidents

Any exposure incident involving lasers must be immediately reported to the Laser Safety Officer.

4.8   Record Keeping

Training records, inventory and registration documentation, incident reports, and inspection reports are maintained by EHRS. Records of individual eye exams are maintained at the Ophthalmology Department at HUP.

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5. KEY REFERENCES and RESOURCES

The documents listed below may be obtained from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety:

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