ANSI Z136.1 “Safe Use of Lasers” standard (recognized by OSHA) defines a Laser Safety Officer (LSO) as an individual designated by the employer with the authority and responsibility to effect the knowledgeable evaluation and control of laser hazards, and to monitor and enforce the control of such hazards.

The LSO may be designated from among personnel such as the radiation safety officer,
industrial hygienist, safety engineer, laser specialist, laser operator or user. The LSO may be a part-time position when the workload for an LSO does not require a full-time effort.

In general, operation and maintenance of a Class 1, Class 1M, Class 2, Class 2M or Class 3R laser and laser system do not require the designation of an LSO. However, if service is performed on a laser system having an embedded Class 3B, or Class 4 laser or laser system a LSO is usually designated.

In any case, ANSI Z136.1 states there shall be a designated LSO for all circumstances of operation, maintenance, and service of a Class 3B or Class 4 laser or laser system.

LSO specific duties and responsibilities include:

  • Establishment of a Laser Safety Program
  • Classify or verify classification of lasers and laser systems
  • Hazard evaluation of laser work areas
  • Implementation of Control Measures
  • Approval of Standard Operating Procedures
  • Recommend/approve laser protective equipment
  • Review laser installations
  • Assure proper laser safety education and training are administered
  • Medical examinations
  • Record keeping
  • Perform/procure laser safety audits, surveys and inspections
  • Accident investigation
  • Approval of laser system operations