Return to Laser Show Safety Homepage
|
Members Area
|
A to Z Index
|
Log in

PURCHASING A COMPLETE LASER SYSETM - SAFETY ISSUES TO CHECK FOR

When purchasing a laser please check that the system has ALL of the following features ... this will ensure that the laser system complies fully with both UK and European regulations. If any one of the following is missing, the laser system will be illegal to operate within the UK:

Please ensure that the laser system...

1. Is encased within a protective housing, which apart from the laser aperture, will prevent you direct access to the laser module and therefore laser radiation
2. Has a remote key switch master control; the key should be removable therefore rendering the system inoperable in your absence
3. Has visible, permanently fixed laser radiation emission warning stickers; these should be located so that viewing does not require exposure to laser radiation

A full summary of the required safety features as defined in the EN60825-1 Laser Product Safety Standard, is included on one of the pages in the members area of this website.

Don't fall into the trap of believing the Maximum Power rating on the yellow Laser Safety Sticker is the power of your laser. The power stated on this label is the maximum theoretical power the laser could produce and includes some headroom so the figure should not normally be exceeded. For example a laser product labelled up with <100mw on the sticker, is more likely to mean the laser is producing nearer to 50mw. The author has seen many laser users look quite down faced after putting a power meter to their laser projector, for them to see that it is producing significantly less than that stated on the label, and that of which they bought the laser as.

There is only one way to measure laser power, which is with a calibrated laser power meter. The human eye is simply unable to differentiate between many different levels. Some laser suppliers show customers it burning skin or other objects to establish laser power - a dangerous and very unreliable way of doing things!

In addition to these features, it is important that your supplier is able to give you properly detailed operated instructions and safety procedures required for your product.

Any reputable laser supplier will be able to provide you with a test certificate or proof of the laser output power of the purchased system. Make sure you ask to see the laser actually being measured in your presence with a calibrated laser power meter (it is quite common for many laser unit with 30mW stickers on them to only output on average only 6mW) If your supplier has not got a laser power meter or is unwilling to show you the measured power it probably means that they either do not want you to see the actual output power or that they do not even know how to do this simple measurement.



There are currently low cost laser systems being sold or "box shifted" in disco shops or mail order companies;
before you even entertain looking at one please ask yourself the following question: Why is it so cheap?

The main reasons are:

1. It is a low quality far east import
2. No UK / European safety standards are usually featured - therefore making it illegal to be sold or even used in the UK; unfortunately the shops are often unaware that the projectors are illegal
3. Laser output power quoted is usually wildly inaccurate, typically the unit will only output upto half of what the retailer has sold it for
4. The retailer (box shifter) has no experience or no prior knowledge of lasers, therefore unable to give correct advise to the customer regarding technical assistance and UK health and safety issue.

The Far Eastern company who manufacture these laser devices sell to UK distributors at an import price from only US Dollars $79 - a laser system that only costs you have to question the quality, construction and safety of the whole laser unit. Please be informed that we are of the understanding that these laser units are currently under the investigation by the DTI and Trading Standards Authority. A simple way to tell if a laser system is suspect is: NO key switch = NOT legal!

Please note: as with everything in this world, you pay for what you get - if something is remarkably cheap then you are getting a very low quality product; the first features to be cut to "cheapen" a product is its safety features, in the case of these laser units we have not seen any evidence of the units having a remote key switch or scanner failure protection - even the laser safety/awareness stickers (that are required by UK legislation) are usually missing.


Main points to remember when purchasing a complete ready to use laser system ...

1.

Keep it legal Using a laser system that does not comply to the European Safety Standards is illegal to use within the UK; be aware of low cost laser systems that flout the rules and therefore are illegal to use - but unfortunately seen in many stores in the UK for sale. The retailer has a legal duty to know what the UK laser project safety legislation is and advise the customer accordingly.
2.
Output power Beware: many laser retailers will sell lasers at the very maximum output power, and sometimes even quote a theoretical power to enhance the output possibilities on paper! A good retailer will always have a calibrated laser power meter to enable proof of output power quoted.
3.
Laser regulations New "Laser Regulations" known as the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 became active from 27th April 2010. 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. Please click here for further details.
You must also ensure that you adhere to the Health & Safety Executive guide (HSG95) "Controlling the radiation safety of display laser installations", information leaflet explaining how to obtain this guide can be found on the FAQ page.
4.
The brightest laser colour Green is the brightest colour that any laser can produce; therefore green will always provide the most striking effect over any other colour laser. Other colours may fade or disburse quicker - but this is not what laser displays are all about! For the record, Green DPSS lasers are up to 4 times brighter than an Argon blue/green laser for the same given output power.
5.
Multicolour laser systems Systems that "claim" to be multicoloured may not look as striking as you think ... in order for a multicolour laser to look any good it must have 100mW of EACH COLOUR; therefore the laser need to have a total output power of over 500mW. The multicolour laser systems often seen in club venues use 7,000mW (7 Watts) to achieve the true colours.
6.
Text, Graphics & Logos Always ensure that if a company claims that their systems can project graphics and text that you see it first hand - some can do text, but can you read it? In order to produce clear, crisp graphics and text you need to invest in a professional set of XY galvanometers. If the company does not know what pps (points per second) of their scanners is or it is less than 8,000 pps chances are that you will not be able to project clear graphics or text from your laser system. The ILDA standard test pattern for scan units is 30,000 pps.
7.
Surplus stock lasers Beware of surplus stock lasers - why are they surplus?

© LVR 2011