Important new legislation came 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 , became active from the 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. Further details can be found here.
Along with AORD, venue
and operator/installer have legal duties to assess the risks the laser
presents and ensure the safety of the people present, under the Health &
Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health & Safety at Work
Regulations 1999. The HS(G)95 laser guidance document is a good starting
place to find out what is and is not appropriate.
What to look for when choosing a laser supplier
If you are a venue operator or events promoter, there are a number of key
points you can look for when choosing a laser system supplier. Some of the
requirements such as the risk assessment, training and use of compliant
equipment are vital to ensure safety, whilst the other aspects will just
help to make sure you get a better quality and more professional display.
Its often the case that laser suppliers that take Health and Safety
seriously will take more care in other areas of the service they are
providing, resulting in more enjoyable displays and good levels of service.
Nine of the most common things to be aware of and look out for are listed
1. Risk Assessment
The supplier of the laser equipment should be able to perform a full risk
assessment at the planning stage of the display. This should be documented
along with sketch plans specific to the venue. The Local Authority or other
relevant enforcement agency will almost certainly want to a see a copy of
the Risk Assessment. It is useful to keep the document for audit purposes.
2. Laser Safety Training
It’s useful to check whether the person charged with carrying out the risk
assessment, installing and operating the laser projection equipment, has any
specific training in laser safety. Copies of training certificates are
normally included in the annex to the main Risk Assessment.
3. Compliant Equipment
It is essential that the supplier’s laser equipment is constructed to the
manufacturing requirements of the IEC/EN Laser Safety Standard. The Safety
Standard sets a minimum level of features the equipment must have to ensure
that basic safety requirements are satisfied.
Many venues require that all contractors carrying out work or providing
services have Public Liability Insurance.
5. Electrical Portable Appliance Testing
It is important that the supplier has a record of Electrical Portable
Appliance Testing, (PAT Documentation).
6. Measuring Equipment
Does the supplier have the right equipment for measuring laser radiation?
This serves two purposes; Firstly, it allows the radiation levels to be
checked for safety reasons and audit purposes. Secondly, it allows the
supplier to demonstrate to you that the power levels are performing as
7. Deliberate Audience Scanning
Check the supplier’s policy on audience scanning. Audience scanning is where
the laser effects are directed into the areas that are accessible by the
public, rather than area above the audience. Putting laser radiation
directly into the faces of the audience can increase the risks associated
with viewing laser displays. If either you or the laser supplier wants to
directly scan the audience with laser effects, then a detailed assessment of
the effects should be performed. At the very least this requires the laser
supplier to have a laser power meter to verify the power level of a static
beam. The spread of the laser radiation during projecting laser effects must
then be calculated and/or measured, so that it can be determined if MPE’s
are being exceeded.
8. Trade Association Membership
If a company says it belongs to a trade association or body, it’s probably
worth checking their membership is current. Often the association’s website
will list all current members. It’s not uncommon for some laser suppliers to
say they are members, when they are not.
Just as you would normally look at past experience and references of
previous work other types of skilled businesses or suppliers have performed,
it’s often worth looking at what other work has been undertaken by your
prospective laser show supplier.