- Safety and Health Topics
- Laser Hazards
LASER is an acronym which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The laser produces an intense, highly directional beam of light. The most common cause of laser-induced tissue damage is thermal in nature, where the tissue proteins are denatured due to the temperature rise following absorption of laser energy.
The human body is vulnerable to the output of certain lasers, and under certain circumstances, exposure can result in damage to the eye and skin. Research relating to injury thresholds of the eye and skin has been carried out in order to understand the biological hazards of laser radiation. It is now widely accepted that the human eye is almost always more vulnerable to injury than human skin.
Laser hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for General Industry.
Provides construction information related to laser hazards in the workplace.
Provides references that may aid in recognizing laser hazards in the workplace.
Provides possible solutions for laser hazards in the workplace.
Provides links and references to additional resources related to laser hazards.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.
- OSHA/Laser Institute of America (LIA) Alliance: A collaborative relationship to foster safer and more healthful American workplaces. The Alliance provides LIA's members and others, including small businesses with information, guidance, and access to training resources that will help them protect employees' health and safety, particularly in reducing and preventing exposure to laser beam and non-beam hazards in industrial and medical workplaces. Safety bulletins and fact sheets can be found on this webpage.
- Eye and Face Protection. OSHA eTool. Provides a comprehensive hazard assessment, information about selecting protective devices for the workplace, as well as OSHA requirements.
- Optical Radiation: Laser Protection. Discusses the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) that must be used to protect against laser hazards in the workplace.
- Hospital. OSHA eTool. Focuses on some of the hazards and controls found in the hospital setting, and describes standard requirements as well as recommended safe work practices for healthcare workers.
- Surgical Suite Module - Laser Hazards. Recommends solutions for laser hazards in the hospital setting.
- Surgical Suite Module - Smoke Plume. Reports that an estimated 500,000 workers are exposed to laser or electro-surgical smoke each year, including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgical technologists.