OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

June 3, 1987

Candis L. Emanuel, RN, BA
Laser Safety Officer
Saint Elizabeth Community Health Center
555 South 70th Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68510

Dear Ms. Emanuel:

This is in response to your letter of April 27, to the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration (OSHA) inquiring about any national standards or regulations related to your soon-to-be-established surgical laser program.

OSHA is the Federal regulatory agency concerned with safety and health conditions in the workplace. To date, OSHA has not issued any regulations establishing any criteria for employee use of lasers.

An American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standard, "American National Standard for the Safe Use of Lasers," ANSI Z136.1-86, has been developed under the aegis of the Laser Institute of America. [Its address and telephone number are:

13501 Ingenuity Drive, Suite 128
Orlando, Florida 32826
Phone: 407.380.1553/ Fax: 407.380.5588
Toll Free: 1.800.34.LASER
Web site: http://www.laserinstitute.org/ ]

The standard includes the topics of: hazard evaluation and classification, control measures, safety and training, medical surveillance, measurements, and criteria for the exposure of eyes and skin.

Suggested allowable employee threshold limit values (TLVs) for direct ocular and skin exposures to laser beams have been established by the American conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). ACGIH also established recommendations for TLVs for viewing a diffuse reflection of a laser beam or an extended source laser. If you need a copy of the suggested allowable exposure to lasers please contact ACGIH directly. Its address and telephone number are:

[1330 Kemper Meadow Drive
Cincinnati, Ohio 45240
Customers/Members Phone: 513-742-2020
Web site: http://www.acgih.org/home.htm ]

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health.


Richard D. Edsell, Director
[Directorate of Science, Technology, and Medicine]

[Corrected 10/22/2004]