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Laser Safety Program: Requirements for Class 3B and 4 Lasers

See requirements for UC San Diego researchers using class 3B or 4 lasers and laser systems.

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Laser Use Authorization (LUA) and user enrollment

Principal investigators (PIs) who acquire or fabricate class 3B or 4 lasers at UC San Diego must apply for an LUA before beginning work and must enroll personnel authorized to use the equipment in the Laser Safety Program.

Register class 3B and 4 lasers

Register all class 3B and 4 lasers or laser systems within UCSD jurisdiction with Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) prior to initial use.

Safety training

EH&S will provide general laser safety training. The PI/ lab manager is responsible for providing laser system-specific safety training.

  • Laser safety training is:
    • Required for personnel using class 3B or 4 lasers, including laser operators and maintenance and service personnel
    • Recommended for personnel working with class 1, 2, and 3R laser systems containing embedded class 3B or 4 lasers

See Laser Safety Training to learn how to meet UCSD training requirements.

Medical surveillance

  • Baseline eye exam recommendation: Faculty, staff, and students working with class 3B or 4 lasers or laser systems are strongly encouraged to participate in the baseline eye exam to:
    • Provide a baseline against which damage (primarily ocular) can be measured in the event of an accidental injury
    • Identify certain individuals who might be at special risk from chronic exposure to selected continuous-wave lasers
  • Post-injury requirement: Personnel using class 3B or 4 lasers must receive an eye examination immediately after a suspected laser eye injury. Promptly refer individuals with:
    • Known or suspected eye injuries to an ophthalmologist
    • Skin injuries to a physician
  • Schedule eye examinations at the Shiley Eye Institute (map), (858) 534-6290.
  • Send a summary of medical reports, including specific test results, to EH&S Laser Safety at Mail Code 0089.
  • Costs: Costs associated with medical surveillance exams are the PI's responsibility. University-provided medical insurance programs do not cover work-related medical surveillance.
  • Visitor requirements: Visiting scientists or other visitors who are not employed by the university must complete a Laser User Enrollment form and UCSD Laser Waiver (2nd page of the User Enrollment form) before beginning work with 3B or 4 lasers or laser systems.

Standard operating procedures

Prepare a written standard operating procedure (SOP). A written SOP is required for class 4 lasers and strongly recommended for class 3B lasers.

  • Write a SOP for your laser or laser system.
  • Include this information, at a minimum, in your SOP:
    • A statement that Class 3B and 4 lasers may only be operated, maintained, and serviced by authorized personnel listed on the LUA, or by the manufacturer's representative
    • Emergency call list
    • Description of safety features
    • Description of protective equipment laser operators must use
    • Specific operating procedures, from start-up to shut-down
    • Specific alignment procedures
    • Safety checklist, either provided with the equipment or developed by the PI
    • Emergency instructions
  • Keep the SOP near the laser, readily available for use by operators and service personnel.
  • Survey the workplace periodically to ensure compliance with your SOP and laser safety requirements.
  • Notify EH&S Laser Safety if the laser system will be modified, possibly resulting in additional laser hazards and a change in procedures.

Emergency preparedness and response

Be prepared for an accident or emergency.

Personal protective equipment

Provide and require use of appropriate personal protective equipment. The EH&S Laser Safety Officer, (858) 822-2850, is available to assist PIs with hazard calculations and fit for correct eyewear as required for LUA approval.

  • Eyewear: Laser safety eyewear is required in the presence of class 3B and 4 lasers. The eyewear must provide sufficient protection for the user.
    • When selecting eyewear, consider:
      • Wavelength of laser output
      • Potential for multi-wavelength operation
      • Optical density
      • Visible light transmission
      • Femto second rated, if applicable
      • Peripheral vision
      • Need for prescription glasses
      • Degradation of absorbing media, such as photo-bleaching
      • Capacity of the front surface to produce specular reflection
      • Radiant exposure or irradiance and the corresponding time factors at which laser protective eyewear damage occurs, including transient bleaching
      • Strength and shock-resistance of materials
      • Comfort and fit
    • Ensure laser protective eyewear is clearly labeled with the optical density values and wavelengths for which the equipment is intended.
    • Inspect eyewear regularly for lens pitting and cracking that could compromise its ability to protect the wearer. Inspect the frame for mechanical integrity and light leaks.
    • Contact EH&S Laser Safety, (858) 822-2850, if you have questions or would like help in selecting appropriate eye protection.
  • Skin protection: Skin protection is required if personnel are likely to be chronically exposed to scattered ultraviolet light (UV), such as during excimer laser applications, or acutely exposed to levels greater that the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limit for skin.
    • Important: Laser light can be attenuated by layered clothing. However, the nylon-based material used for many lab coats has a transmission level of 20% to 40%, and is not appropriate as personal protective equipment.
    • Use leather gloves, aprons, and jackets for protection against UV exposure.
    • Wear fire-resistant materials and UV protection for work with class 4 lasers.
  • Other personal protective equipment may be required when engineering controls are insufficient. This may include:

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