Equipment Safety: OSHA Standards in the Safe Use of Laser

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George Davis
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The construction industry benefits from the many wonders of laser technology. In construction sites, laser is used in leveling and elevations alignment applications, as well as in precision cutting and grading.

General Safety Measures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set general requirements for the use of laser. These requirements are under the Nonionizing Radiation standard.

Below are some of the general requirements and safety precautions for laser use.

  • Warning signs or placards must be posted in areas where lasers are used.
  • All laser equipment must bear a label that indicates its maximum output.
  • Laser units used in operation should be set above the heads of employees.
  • When laser transmission is not required, the laser should be turned off or the beam shutters or caps should be utilized.
  • The laser must be turned off before leaving it unattended.
  • The laser beam must never be directed at workers.
  • Only electronic or mechanical means should be used as detectors for guiding the alignment of the laser.
  • Workers must be provided with anti-laser eye protection when there is potential exposure to direct or reflected laser light greater than five milliwatts.
  • Laser operations should be prohibited when it rains or snows or when there is fog or dust in the air.

Harmful Laser Exposures

Workers must never be exposed to non-ionizing radiation light intensities above the following standard values:

  • Direct Staring – one micro-watt per square centimeter (applies when workers are required to or are likely to look directly into the beam to perform their work)

  • Incidental Observing – one milliwatt per square centimeter (applies when workers are not required to look directly into the laser or are unlikely to do so)

  • Diffused Reflected Light – two and one half watts per square centimeter

  • Microwave Power Densities – ten milliwatts per square centimeter

Related Links:

PPE and How It Can Save Your Life – Part 1

OSHA Announces Top 10 Most Cited Violations

Proper Welding PPE and Safety Measures for Better Fire Protection

PPE and How It Can Save Your Life – Part 2

Top 10 OSHA Fines for Small Companies

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