Reason 1: no spare parts
Sight is the sense that people are most afraid of losing. A study published in 2019 by the University of London’s Department of Ophthalmology shows that 88% of United Kingdom adults surveyed have identified vision as their most important sense. Unfortunately, although the human body has this wonderful ability to regenerate, the eye is a fragile structure that has a very limited capacity for healing.
Laser radiation interacts with the skin and eyes and exposure can lead to disastrous consequences. The eye is a formidable instrument that transmits and focuses light to the back of the eye. Burns, ablation, focusing problems and blindness are the possible consequences of the encounter between your eye and a laser beam. Even in the absence of focus, for radiation out of sight and near-infrared (UV, medium IR, far IR), considerable and debilitating damage is to be feared. The skin is not left out, as deep burns and the chronic effects of UV exposure can also affect it.
So, as they say, “I have two eyes, so much the better”… but exactly, JUST TWO!
Reason 2: Because you have heart
The consequences of a workplace accident go beyond the days lost. Although compensation is available for permanent disabilities, it is not a substitute for the joy of seeing the fall colors, the ability to drive or to recognize the smiles of the people you love. Chronic pain and eye health problems can also add to this grim picture. How can anyone be justified to take such a risk?
The costs associated with accidents at work are also borne by the whole of society: costs of compensation and health costs covered by the CNESST, losses of state tax revenue in compensation.
Reason 3: because the law requires it
The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to ensure the safety of their employees in relation to all hazardous exposure factors. In the case of laser safety, the act does not set out any guidelines in Quebec, which makes it all the more necessary for employers to know the subject in order to give themselves adequate means to protect their employees.
The CSA 60825, ANSI Z136 and CIE 60825 norms are the standards of reference in this regard, and their provisions should be properly interpreted.
Reason 4: Danger is not where you think
Familiarize yourself with the following concepts to remain alert to the risks of accidents:
- The physics of laser beam propagation (spoiler: not at all like conventional sources!)
- Specular or diffuse reflections difficult to assess
- The infrared iceberg
- Typical circumstances that lead to accidents
Reason 5: The general public too
In your professional practice, you certainly think about protecting your workers. But as laser devices are becoming more common in all kinds of consumer products, ensure that the products you market meet the standards for accessible emission limits and built-in safety features.
… and many others.
Laser risk is not a fatality! This risk, like all others, can be managed and effective means are available to you to do so, as long as you take the trouble to train yourself on the subject.
By Marie-Maude de Denus-Baillargeon, Ph. D, Photonics specialist
About us :
Optech is a technology transfer center that collaborates and helps companies to develop technology products.
Our CCTT offers you training in laser safety and sensitivity several times a year. This training is intended for researchers, health professionals, academics, laser operators, engineers, technicians, etc. Optech has been able to serve several companies in different fields such as IMAX, Photon etc, Polycontrols, NRC, Teledyne DALSA, etc.
Training is offered in English or French.
Ready to apply? Check out our Laser Safety Training page!