A written Laser Safety Program is required for any organization using a Class 3B or 4 laser or laser system, according to ANSI Z136.1 “Safe Use of Lasers” standard.  Laser Safety Programs is one of the first items addressed in the standard (Section 1.3), and it’s usually the first question a knowledgeable OSHA inspector will ask if you are one of the lucky organizations to get a visit.  Are you comfortable with the state of your Laser Safety Program? Or do you even have one? When was the last time your Laser Safety Program was audited?  OSHA has been known to cite the ANSI Z136.1 standard under the General Duty Clause – OHS Act of 1970. The first step in establishing a Laser Safety Program is auditing your facility. Normative Appendix A in ANSI Z136.1 states the following regarding audits.

  • Audits, Surveys and Inspections.  The LSO shall periodically audit or survey by inspection for the presence and functionality of the laser safety features and control measures required for each Class 3B and Class 4 laser or laser system in the laser facilities…

What the heck does periodically mean?  Monthly, quarterly, annually? Periodically has a different meaning to everybody, annually seems to make sense to me.  The LSO or Laser Safety Committee at your organization should be able to determine what periodically means for your program as it is an important part of any Laser Safety Program.  The position of LSO is usually a part-time position making it difficult to find time to perform an audit.  Some organizations such as Kentek can be contracted to perform a laser safety audit.  Here are some tips to get your audit going.

  1. Plan the Audit
    • Write an objective statement
    • Create a form or checklist that suits your needs
    • Schedule visits with the laser owners
  2. Address each of these areas
    • Training
    • Beam control
    • Laser eyewear
    • Written SOPs
    • Entryway controls
    • Possible reflections
    • Alignment procedures
  3. Finish the Audit
    • Send an audit report to all laser owners
    • Make recommendations for improvement/compliance
    • Ensure installation of safety recommendations

I’ve performed several audits over the years ranging from large universities to industrial facilities and hospitals.  If you have any questions or just want to bounce something off me don’t hesitate to contact me directly.  603-223-4900 or rgreene@kenteklaserstore.com.  Stay safe!