Laser Safety Micro-Course: What You Need to Know Today

Introduction to Laser Safety

Lasers are powerful devices that emit light of a single wavelength. They are used in a wide variety of applications, including manufacturing, medicine, and entertainment. However, lasers can also be dangerous if not used properly. This blog post will discuss the safety hazards of lasers and how to protect yourself from them.

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Characteristics of Laser Light

Laser light is different from ordinary light in several ways. First, laser light is coherent, which means that all of the waves are in phase with each other. This gives laser light a very narrow beam and a high intensity. Second, laser light is monochromatic, which means that it has a single wavelength. This makes laser light very precise and controllable.

The coherence of laser light is due to the way that lasers work. In a laser, a material is excited to produce light of a specific wavelength. This light is then amplified and collimated, which means that it is focused into a narrow beam. The narrow beam and high intensity of laser light make it very dangerous if it is not used properly.

In fact, Laser itself is an acronym for:

  • Light
  • Amplification by
  • Stimulated
  • Emission of
  • Radiation

Components of a Fiber Laser

A fiber laser is a type of laser that uses a fiber optic cable to transmit the laser light. The fiber optic cable is made of a material that has a very low refractive index, which allows the laser light to travel through the cable with very little loss. The fiber laser typically has three main components: the laser source, the fiber optic cable, and the laser head.

The laser source is the part of the laser that produces the laser light. The laser source can be a gas laser, a solid-state laser, or an semiconductor laser. The fiber optic cable is the part of the laser that transmits the laser light. The fiber optic cable is typically made of glass or plastic. The laser head is the part of the laser that focuses the laser light into a beam. The laser head typically has a lens that focuses the laser light into a narrow beam.

Laser Hazard Classes

Lasers are classified according to their potential hazard. The laser hazard classes are defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in ANSI Z136.1. The laser hazard classes are:

  • Class 1: Lasers that are not hazardous under normal operating conditions.
  • Class 2: Lasers that can cause eye injury if the beam is viewed directly for a short period of time.
  • Class 3R: Lasers that can cause eye injury if the beam is viewed directly for a longer period of time or if it is reflected.
  • Class 3B: Lasers that can cause eye injury and skin burns if the beam is viewed directly or reflected.
  • Class 4: Lasers that can cause serious eye injury and skin burns, and can also ignite materials.

Laser Beam Injuries

Laser beam injuries can occur to the eyes and skin. Eye injuries can range from temporary vision impairment to permanent blindness. Skin injuries can range from mild burns to severe burns.

The most common type of laser beam injury is an eye injury. Eye injuries can occur when the laser beam is viewed directly or reflected. The severity of the eye injury depends on the laser hazard class, the wavelength of the laser light, and the duration of exposure.

Skin injuries can also occur from laser beam exposure. Skin injuries are typically less serious than eye injuries, but they can still be painful and can cause scarring.

Laser Control Measures

There are a number of laser control measures that can be used to reduce the risk of laser beam injuries. These measures include:

  • Labeling: Lasers must be labeled with their laser hazard class and other safety information.
  • Training: All personnel who work with lasers must be trained in laser safety.
  • Personal protective equipment: Eye protection and other personal protective equipment must be used when working with lasers.
  • Engineering controls: Engineering controls, such as beam guards and interlocks, can be used to prevent accidental exposure to laser beams.
  • Work area controls: Laser work areas should be designated and controlled to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Emergency procedures: Emergency procedures should be in place in case of a laser accident.

Work Safety Best Practices

In addition to the laser control measures listed above, there are a number of work safety best practices that can be followed to reduce the risk of laser beam injuries. These best practices include:

  • Always wear eye protection when working with lasers.
  • Never look directly at a laser beam, even if it is just for a moment.
  • Be aware of the potential for laser light to be reflected.
  • Do not point a laser beam at anyone or anything you do not want to damage.
  • Follow the safety procedures that are specified for the laser you are using.

Overview of ANSI Z136.1

ANSI Z136.1 is the American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers. This standard provides information on the safe use of lasers, including laser hazard classification, laser control measures, and work safety best practices.

ANSI Z136.1 is a comprehensive standard that covers all aspects of laser safety. The standard includes information on the following topics:

  • Laser hazard classification
  • Laser control measures
  • Work safety best practices
  • Laser safety training
  • Laser safety labeling
  • Laser safety inspections

ANSI Z136.1 is a valuable resource for anyone who works with lasers. The standard provides a comprehensive overview of laser safety and helps to ensure that lasers are used safely.


Lasers are powerful devices that can be dangerous if not used properly. By following the safety precautions outlined in this blog post, you can help to ensure that you are using lasers safely.

Have questions about how to properly handle your laser equipment? Give us a call or contact us today! Our team will be happy to further explain or clarify any industry best practices or standards!

Additional Resources

  • The American National Standards Institute (ANSI):
  • The International Laser Safety Association (ILSA):
  • The National Laser Safety Information Center: