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Laser Safety: 6 Reasons Not to Take Risks

It is essential to take laser safety seriously, as the consequences can be severe. In this article, we present four reasons why it is essential to take laser safety seriously and learn more about it. Here are six reasons why you should not take risks:

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Sight is irreplaceable

A study from the University of London has shown that sight is the most precious sense for people. Optical radiation from a laser can cause irreversible eye damage, including a decrease in visual acuity up to blindness. Unfortunately, despite the miraculous regenerative capacity of the human body, the eye is a fragile structure with very limited healing ability. The eye is, among other things, an optical element, like a magnifying glass, which will transmit and focus light onto the back of the eye. Even without focusing, for radiation outside the visible range, exposure to radiation can cause eye damage. The skin is not to be overlooked, as deep burns and chronic effects from UV exposure can also affect the skin.


The law requires action

Laser safety training is a legal requirement for businesses that use laser devices in their activity. This obligation is imposed by N° 2006/25/CE. This european directive requires the employer to train its personnel to minimize the risk of workers' exposure to laser radiation.

Employee safety is a major issue for companies, and complying with this decree by studying the latest standards in force is therefore a legal obligation that employers must comply with. To do this, it is necessary to offer tailor-made training that meets the needs of each company and ensures the safety of employees.


The danger is not always easy to understand

And it is not very intuitive to quickly identify why the laser is so dangerous.

Several aspects of laser safety are not taken into account. It is essential to understand the following concepts to remain attentive to the risk of accidents:

  • The propagation of the laser beam (very different from so-called incoherent light sources)

  • Reflections on a mirror or diffuse surface can be very dangerous

  • IR (Infrared), especially with near-IR, is extremely dangerous (the main source of accidents)

  • Other risks, such as electrical, chemical, etc.


Everyone is concerned

In your professional activities, you are certainly thinking about protecting your workers. But as laser devices are becoming more and more common in all types of consumer products, you must ensure that the products you put on the market comply with accessible emission limit standards and other integrated safety properties...and much more! This risk, like all others, can be controlled, and you can use effective means to do so, provided you take the time to learn about the subject.


Financial consequences

These accidents can not only affect workers' health and well-being but also have significant financial consequences for the company.

Financial consequences may include regulatory fines, replacement costs for damaged equipment, equipment repair costs, and productivity losses due to operational downtime. These costs can quickly add up, which can have a negative impact on the company's financial results.

It is therefore crucial for companies to invest in laser safety to avoid these potentially costly financial consequences. This can include measures such as training workers on the proper use of lasers, installing physical barriers to protect workers from laser radiation, using personal protective equipment, and establishing emergency procedures to intervene in the event of an accident.


Your laser technologies are evolving.

When adding or replacing lasers in your company, it's important to be aware of the associated risks. The methods of working with the beam may differ, as well as collective and individual protections. Take, for example, the use of CO2 lasers, where maintenance technicians used plexiglass plates to shield against the laser, a proven method. However, technology has evolved, and near-infrared lasers are now more commonly used. Unfortunately, technicians, who thought they were familiar with laser hazards, continued to use the same techniques. The problem? These new lasers can penetrate plexiglass, thus endangering the safety of workers.

It's crucial to understand that each type of laser carries specific hazards, and safety measures must be adapted accordingly. Companies must ensure that their workers are trained and informed of potential risks associated with each type/class of laser used in their business. Additionally, safety protocols must be updated regularly to ensure they are always effective and relevant.


Going further

The use of laser sources can pose health hazards, particularly to the eyes and skin, due to the power and wavelength of the emitted beams. It's essential to comply with safety (and protection) standards based on the classification of the laser used, whether it's a significant class laser or not. Safety measures must be implemented to reduce exposure to laser radiation, such as wearing appropriate protective glasses or limiting access to the laser installation. It's important to receive training on safe laser usage measures and consider potential health risks in all applications, machines, and devices using an emitting laser. Safety is paramount to prevent any danger and injury related to exposure to a powerful laser beam, which may be invisible to the naked eye but can cause significant damage."

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