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CONTROLLING THE RADIATION SAFETY OF DISPLAY LASER INSTALLATIONS

Health & Safety Executive Guide for Laser displays
CONTENTS
CONTROLLING THE RADIATION SAFETY OF DISPLAY LASER INSTALLATIONS
WHAT ARE THE KEY SAFETY PROBLEMS?
WHAT ACTION DO YOU NEED TO TAKE?
FURTHER INFORMATION


CONTROLLING THE RADIATION SAFETY OF DISPLAY LASER INSTALLATIONS
Most lasers that are used in entertainment, theatre and public exhibition work emit beams that are bright enough to cause a significant eye injury risk. High power lasers with radiant powers that exceed around 0.5 watts may also cause skin burns.

This leaflet provides employers and employees who use lasers in these activities and companies that manufacture or supply such equipment with general information on the laser radiation safety problems they need to consider. For a more detailed guide on the safety of display laser installations see HSE guidance publication HS(G)95 The radiation safety of lasers used for display purposes. An order form is provided with this leaflet.

WHAT ARE THE KEY SAFETY PROBLEMS?
The most important issues are those of laser beam viewing safety assessment and restriction of access to beams that are identified as hazardous. These are the main questions to be answered:

Are all laser beams that are accessible by people safe to view?

You need to think about this both in relation to normal equipment operation and fault conditions. In particular, the following situations need to be considered:

  • deliberate audience scanning;
  • alignment and setting up; and
  • beam projection at roadways, occupied buildings and into aviation airspace.

Can hazardous beams be kept inaccessible in all conditions of equipment operation?

You need to think about:

  • engineered features such as beam enclosure, masking and stops;
  • administrative controls such as barriers, signs, key control of equipment and staff training.

Has the need for eye protection been considered?

People who may be exposed to hazardous beams (especially during alignment and setting up procedures) need to be provided with suitable protective eyewear.


WHAT ACTION DO YOU NEED TO TAKE?

If you are a manufacturer, designer, importer, supplier or installer of display laser equipment or of components for such equipment, you have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to consider the safety of your products when they are used by a person at work.

In particular, you must:

  • so far as reasonably practicable, ensure that your products are designed and constructed so that hazardous beams are inaccessible to people (especially audiences). This applies both during normal operation and following any reasonably foreseeable fault in the product's operation; and
  • if access to a hazardous emission is necessary during installation and setting up of your products, provide the purchasing employer with safety information, eg on the training, safe systems of work and any personal protective equipment that will be needed.

The current British Standard on the safety of laser products gives useful information on safe equipment design 6 .

If you are an employer who uses display laser equipment either at your own premises or under contract to a venue operator, you must:

  • assess the health and safety risks caused by your work; including risks to employees and the public (especially audiences), and ensure that these risks are controlled so far as is reasonably practicable; and
  • ensure that the work equipment you provide is suitable "in any respect which will affect the health and safety of any person" 1 . The current British Standard on the safety of laser products gives useful information on safe equipment design and lists the personal laser radiation exposure limits HSE is guided by.

If you are a venue owner who lets contracts for laser shows to be provided at your premises, you have a duty to:

  • co-operate with the installer so that they can complete the laser show safely.

It is good practice for venue owners to make sure that the installer has adequately assessed the safety of the laser show at their premises and has addressed the issues dealt with in this leaflet.

FURTHER INFORMATION

  1. Work Equipment. Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992. Guidance on regulations L22 HSE Books 1992 ISBN 0 7176 04144.
  2. Management of Health and Safety at Work. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 Approved code of practice L21 HSE Books 1992 ISBN 0 7176 0412 8
  3. Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. Guidance on regulations L25 HSE Books 1992 ISBN 0 7176 0415 2
  4. Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 HMSO 1974 ISBN 0 1054 3774 3
  5. 5 Steps to risk assessment 1994 HSE Books IND(G)163L
  6. Safety of laser products. Part 1. Equipment classification, requirements and user's guide British Standard BS EN 60825-1:1994 ISBN 0 580 23532 7 Contact BSI for latest revision
  7. The radiation safety of display laser installations HS(G)95 HSE Books 1996 ISBN 0 7176 0691
  8. Lasers, Festival and Entertainment Lighting Code The Institution of Lighting Engineers 1995
  9. Safety of laser products. Part 3. Guidance for laser displays and shows. IEC 825 - 3 1995

HSE priced and free publications are available by mail order from:
HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO 10 6FS. Tel: 01787 881165 Fax: 01787 313995
HSE priced publications are also available from good booksellers.
For other enquiries ring HSE's InfoLine Tel: 08701 545500, or write to HSE's Information Centre. Broad Lane, Sheffield S3 7HQ.

This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice.

IND(G)224L 10/96 C50
Published by the Health and Safety Executive


© LVR 2010