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News - Important Legislation Change : Lasers

Later this month important new legislation comes into force in the UK that relates to how lasers and other potentially hazardous light sources are used in the workplace. The new regulations are known as the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 , and will become active from the 27th April 2010 onwards. They are derived from the EU Artificial Optical Radiation Directive (AORD), which is intended to set a minimum level of health and safety for workers across all EU member states.

The UK's implementation of the directive can be downloaded from

The legislation is designed to protect workers from both laser light and non-coherent light sources, and as such sets legally binding exposure limits that must not be exceeded. For laser users the new Exposure Limit Values (ELVs) are virtually the same as the traditional Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) values . The critical difference however is that as the limits are mandatory levels, and to exceed them is to commit a regulatory offence, which could lead to a Magistrate's Court fine of up to £20,000.

The other key aspect from the legislation is that it requires a specific risk assessment relating to the use of hazardous light sources is carried out and appropriate control measures are put in place to prevent anyone being exposed to excessive emissions.

What impact does this have on laser show providers? HSE's HS(G)95 guidance document, The Radiation Safety of Lasers used for Display Purposes , is a good starting point to helping you make sure you are able to comply with the new regulations. Now too, is the time to review your current systems of work, and ensure that you have suitable engineering and procedural controls in place to ensure safety and compliance.

Does this make it illegal to audience scan or point laser effects at guests? Not necessarily. What the legislation is saying is that an assessment of the risk of any exposure to laser radiation must be carried out and any emissions must be kept below the ELVs .

But members of the audience are not workers, so does it mean that they are exempt from the exposure limits? It is true that the new regulations are designed to protect workers only. However there is a strong chance that workers, such as security, bar staff and stewards, will be present in the display area too. And under general H&S legislation there is specific regulation that states members of the public must not be harmed by any work carried out by a supplier.

Full coverage about how the new regulations affect laser show providers are included in the newly updated one-day Professional Laser Display Safety Training Course , which now features and optional exam for delegates to test their knowledge at the end of the day. Details of the course are included with this email.

© LVR 2010