Our Laser Safety Sales PolicyWe want to ensure that all our customers are fully aware of the safety precautions required for the safe use of lasers and after discussions with our local Trading Standards Office we have adopted the following policy:
We have split the sales of our hand-held lasers into sections headed:
- Laser Pointers (Class 2 lasers) that are generally considered safe in normal use
- Professional Lasers (Class 3R, 3B and Class 4 lasers) that require appropriate safety precautions to be taken
We require all potential purchasers of these products to register on this site before making a purchase to confirm that they are aware of the safety precautions required and have read and accepted our general terms and conditions (GTC).
In the sections below we have collected some general laser safety information that we feel may be useful to our customers.
All information is given in good faith and we have taken care in its preparation, however, users should verify and confirm any information given for themselves before relying on it.
This site is UK based and the guidance below is based on the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) advice available in Dec 2008. This advice is highlighted in blue. The HPA link at the end of this section goes to their advice pages for further information.
The International Laser Display Association (ILDA) is the trade body for laser light shows and is supporting a non-commercial site concerned with the safety issues relating to laser pointers, we encourage owners and potential owners to take a look at: www.laserpointersafety.org
RegulationsThere is no specific legislation covering the use of lasers in the UK. However, general safety legislation will apply, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. A suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks from the use of the lasers should be made by the employer. If a laser is to be used outdoors and could target aircraft then the Civil Aviation Authority should be notified. Deliberately targeting aircraft or displaying lights that may confuse pilots is an offence under the Air Navigation Order 2005.
Laser PointersLasers are often referred to as laser pointers if they have a momentary on/off switch, however, in the UK there is no special class of lasers for pointing, all lasers are classified together based on the power they can deliver to a user or bystander as shown below.
For pointers (for use at presentations etc.) the UK Health Protection Agency recommends:
'the professional use of a Class 1 or Class 2 laser pointer as a training aid in the workplace to be justified, and regards these Classes of laser product as being generally adequate for such use. The use of Class 3R laser pointers up to 5 mW may be justified for some applications in the workplace where the user has received adequate training.'
It advises that Class 3B Lasers normally have excessive power for use as pointers at presentations:
'Many of these are not even suitable for professional use because they cause after images in people viewing the beam on a projection screen. Those close to the screen may also experience a grey 'comet tail' following the beam as it is moved across the screen. Some of these green laser pointers produce beams that consist of a series of bursts (or pulses) of light with high peak powers in each pulse. The manufacturers often quote average power, which gives a misleading indication of the risk. Because of the way the green beam is generated, there may also be other, invisible, laser beams emitted. Specialist equipment is needed to identify these problems.
Although the risk of a permanent eye injury from a laser pointer may be small, an individual receiving even a transient eye exposure from a laser pointer will experience a bright flash, a dazzling effect, which is likely to cause distraction and temporary loss of vision in the affected eye and possibly after-images. The time taken to recover from these effects will vary for different individuals and will also be dependent on the ambient light level at the time of exposure. Medical attention should only be sought if after-images persist for hours, or if a disturbance in reading vision is apparent.'
Image 1: Class 3B Laser, Image 3: Class 2 laser
Laser products are classified to take account of the amount of laser beam to which you can get access when the product is in normal use or during routine user maintenance. A laser product may contain a laser of a higher class and this may be accessible during servicing. Labels on the product should provide guidance on the laser beam hazard. Full details about the classification scheme can be found in the current British Standard on Laser Safety, BS EN 60825-1:1994, as amended. A brief description of each laser class follows.
Class 1 lasers are products where the irradiance (measured in watts per metre square) of the accessible laser beam (the accessible emission) does not exceed the Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) value. Therefore, for Class 1 laser products the output power is below the level at which it is believed eye damage will occur. Exposure to the beam of a Class 1 laser will not result in eye injury and may therefore be considered safe. However, some Class 1 laser products may contain laser systems of a higher class but there are adequate engineering control measures to ensure that access to the beam is not reasonably likely. Examples of such products include laser printers and compact disc players. Anyone who dismantles a Class 1 laser product that contains a higher class laser system is potentially at risk of exposure to a hazardous laser beam. A laser that is inherently safe and cannot exceed the MPE under any circumstances is exempt from the classification system.
Class 1M lasers are products which produce either a highly divergent beam or a large diameter beam. Therefore, only a small part of the whole laser beam can enter the eye. However, these laser products can be harmful to the eye if the beam is viewed using magnifying optical instruments. Some of the lasers used for fibre-optic communication systems are Class 1M laser products.
Class 2 lasers are limited to a maximum output power of 1 milliwatt (abbreviated to mW, one thousandth of a watt) and the beam must have a wavelength between 400 and 700 nm. A person receiving an eye exposure from a Class 2 laser beam, either accidentally or as a result of someone else's deliberate action (misuse) will be protected from injury by their own natural aversion response. This is a natural involuntary response that causes the individual to blink and avert their head thereby terminating the eye exposure. Repeated, deliberate exposure to the laser beam may not be safe. Some laser pointers and barcode scanners are Class 2 laser products.
Class 2M lasers are products which produce either a highly divergent beam or a large diameter beam within the wavelength range 400 to 700 nm. Therefore, only a small part of the whole laser beam can enter the eye and this is limited to 1 mW, similar to a Class 2 laser product. However, these products can be harmful to the eye if the beam is viewed using magnifying optical instruments or for long periods of time. Some lasers used for civil engineering applications, such as level and orientation instruments are Class 2M laser products.
Class 3R lasers are higher powered devices than Class 1 and Class 2 and may have a maximum output power of 5 mW or five times the Accessible Emission Limit (AEL) for a Class 1 product. The laser beams from these products exceed the maximum permissible exposure for accidental viewing and can potentially cause eye injuries, but the actual risk of injury following a short, accidental exposure, is still small.
Class 3B lasers may have an output power of up to 500 mW (half a watt). Class 3B lasers may have sufficient power to cause an eye injury, both from the direct beam and from reflections. The higher the output power of the device the greater the risk of injury. Class 3B lasers are therefore considered hazardous to the eye. However, the extent and severity of any eye injury arising from an exposure to the laser beam of a Class 3B laser will depend upon several factors including the radiant power entering the eye and the duration of the exposure. Examples of Class 3B products include lasers used for physiotherapy treatments and many research lasers.
Class 4 lasers have an output power greater than 500 mW (half a watt). There is no upper restriction on output power. Class 4 lasers are capable of causing injury to both the eye and skin and will also present a fire hazard if sufficiently high output powers are used. Lasers used for many laser displays, laser surgery and cutting metals may be Class 4 products. Many Class 4 laser products are safe during normal use, but may not have all of the protection measures required for a Class 1 product. An example would be an enclosure with an open roof; it is possible that someone could get a ladder and climb over the enclosure to get access to the laser beam.
Why do some lasers have the Class as Roman numerals?In the United States of America it is a legal requirement for laser products to comply with the requirements of a Federal Product Performance Standard. Lasers classified in accordance with this Standard are assigned to Classes I, IIA, II, IIIA, IIIB or IV. There are subtle differences between this Standard and the British Standard. This has caused a great deal of confusion with laser products labeled to the American Standard.
The role of Laser Safety Officers in the UK
The British Standard user’s guide for laser safety, PD IEC TR 60825-14:2004, recommends that a Laser Safety Officer (LSO) is appointed where Class 3B and Class 4 lasers are used. Employers may also consider whether an LSO is needed for the use of Class 1M and Class 2M lasers. The degree of training and competence of a person appointed as a Laser Safety Officer needs to be balanced against the risks from the work with the laser, including any maintenance or servicing operations. In some cases, laser safety expertise is only required at the start of the work with the laser product and when any changes are made. Under such circumstances it would not be reasonable to train an employee in all aspects of laser safety – without regular application of the training they would soon forget some of what they had learnt. At the other extreme, for example in research environments, the LSO may be involved with regular assessments and advice regarding laser safety. Further information can be found in PD IEC TR 60825-14: 2004, Safety of Laser Products - Part 14: A user's guide, and in PD CLC/TR 50448:2005, Guide to levels of competence required in laser safety.
Do I need laser safety goggles?
From a legal point of view, the answer depends on where in the world you are working and what legislation is in force.
In the absence of legislation our safety procedure is that for any situation where you could reasonably be expected to be exposed to lasers of Class 3B or higher appropriate goggles should be worn.
Eyewear is rated for optical density (OD), which is the base-10 logarithm of the attenuation factor by which the optical filter reduces beam power. For example, eyewear with OD 3 will reduce the beam power in the specified wavelength range by a factor of 1,000.
Eyewear must be selected for the specific type of laser, to block or attenuate in the appropriate wavelength range. For example, eyewear absorbing 532 nm typically has an orange appearance, transmitting wavelengths larger than 550 nm. Such eyewear would be useless as protection against a laser emitting at 800 nm. Furthermore, some lasers emit more than one wavelength of light, and this may be a particular problem with some less expensive frequency-doubled lasers, such as 532 nm "green laser pointers" which are commonly pumped by 808 nm infrared laser diodes, and also generate an intermediate 1064 nm laser beam which is used to produce the final 532 nm output. If the IR radiation is allowed into the beam, which happens in some green laser pointers, it will in general not be blocked by regular red or orange colored protective eyewear designed for pure green or already IR-filtered beam.We recommend our multiple wavelength goggles for green lasers, since they protect against invisible IR emissions as well as the green laser light. For red lasers an alternative goggle is available.
Apart from the use of medical lasers in private practice and display lasers, there is no need to inform anyone that you are using a laser. However, specific conditions may apply in some areas, such as for laser beams that may influence air or marine traffic. Employers will need to consider their use of lasers as part of their risk assessment process carried out under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. If the risk assessment shows that employees of another employer may be at risk then there will be a duty to collaborate on potential issues.
The HPA jointly runs the Laser Safety Forum with the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University. The Laser Safety Forum provides a mechanism for those interested in laser safety to share experiences and this is achieved through an annual meeting and an occasional newsletter, Laser Safety Matters. The Laser Safety Forum is open to all who have an interest in laser safety, including manufacturers, suppliers, users and enforcing officers.
Link: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733794576?p=1158934607693 Laser Safety
*** Hand-held LASERS OVER 5mW are not available for shipping to the US and Australia, Paypal will not process these orders due to Federal and Australian restrictions. ***
Laser Light Effects (Display Lasers)
Laser light effects can, if used incorrectly, be very dangerous. All devices should be used in accordance with the HSE guidance publication HS(G)95 “The radiation safety of lasers used for display purposes” this is available free online in PDF format from http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg95.pdf or from book stores under ISBN 978 0 7176 0691 7
The HSE publication referenced above contains useful information on calculating maximum exposure limits for laser display systems and procedures for assessing safe use.
Lasers and Aircraft
The following flyer is produced by laserpointersafety.com and we are pleased to reproduce it :
Lithium Battery Safety
Lithium Polymer and Li-ion batteries are volatile. Failure to read and follow the below instructions may result in fire, personal injury and damage to property if charged or used improperly.
By purchasing Lithium Polymer and Li-ion batteries, the buyer assumes all risks associated with lithium batteries. If you do not agree with these conditions, please return the batteries immediately before use for refund.
We have reproduced manufacturers guidelines for these batteries below.
Note: Batteries should not be mixed in equipment that takes more than one battery: Do not mix batteries with different specifications. Do not mix fully charged and partially charged batteries.
You may return any unwanted batteries or electrical
components supplied by us (or the item they are bought to replace) to us
Most supermarkets and shops that sell batteries will have collection bins for used batteries, and some town halls, libraries or schools may also set up collection points. End-users may find stores in their local area more accessible.