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Laser Safety

The Laser Safety Committee reviews and grants permission for, or disapprove, the use of laser equipment of Class 3 or higher for experimental, routine, or non-routine uses within the university from the standpoint of health and safety of experimenters, students, faculty, staff and the general public.

They ensure compliance with laser safety standards, including federal and state regulations and non-regulatory standards as outlined in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z136 series of laser safety standards.

When is Laser Safety Committee approval necessary and what regulations apply?

The University has established a Laser Safety Committee responsible for formulating policy related to the safe use of lasers. The Committee is also charged with monitoring the University’s compliance with regard to federal and state regulations for the safe use of laser radiation. The Laser Safety Officer (LSO) is responsible for ensuring that the policies and guidelines established by the Committee are implemented. The LSO is also responsible for informing the Committee of any compliance issues at the University.

All class 3b and class 4 lasers must be registered with ORCI. This may be accomplished by completing a Laser Registration Form.

Lasers are to be registered before being placed in service so the LSO can verify that the system is operating within University and State requirements for safe use. On behalf of the University, ORCIS must register each system with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) each calendar year. Therefore, when a laser system is taken out of service, ORCIS must be notified promptly.

Laser Safety Committee Membership

The Laser Safety Committee shall consist of members representing each department possessing laser equipment of Class 3 or higher. The chair and department representatives are appointed or removed by and the committee is directly responsible to, the Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships. The director of Environmental Health and Safety shall be an ex officio member and the laser safety officer shall be an ex officio nonvoting member of the committee. The length of terms of committee members is indefinite.

Duties and Responsibilities of the Committee

  1. Develop and promulgate policies and procedures regarding laser safety within the university.
  2. Review and grant permission for, or disapprove, the use of laser equipment of Class 3 or higher for experimental, routine, or non-routine uses within the university from the standpoint of health and safety of experimenters, students, faculty, staff and the general public.
  3. Recommend candidates to the vice president for research for the position of university laser safety officer.
  4. Outline the duties of the laser safety officer.
  5. Ensure compliance with laser safety standards, including federal and state regulations and non-regulatory standards as outlined in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z136 series of laser safety standards.
  6. Review annual reports from the laser safety officer or other individuals with delegated responsibilities for health and safety practices of the university involving laser radiation sources, including personnel training records, laser hazard control measures, laser safety inspections and other matters concerning the use and operational hazards of lasers.
  7. Investigate alleged infractions of safety rules or improper use of laser equipment brought to its attention by the laser safety officer or other responsible personnel and recommend remedial action to correct such infractions.

Roles and Responsibilities of The Principle Investigator

It is the policy of Northern Illinois University that the principal investigator (PI), or faculty member in charge of a laboratory, is responsible for safety associated with laser use in his or her area.

For class 3b and 4 lasers, this responsibility includes, but is not limited to:

  • registering all class 3b and class 4 lasers purchased or acquired with the NIU LSO
  • developing written operating, safety and emergency procedures for all lasers
  • performing a hazard evaluation in each laboratory
  • training operators in operating, safety and emergency procedures
  • procuring protective eyewear appropriate for the wavelength of the laser radiation and requiring its use
  • proper posting of signs and warnings
  • notifying ORCI when a laser system is permanently taken out of service.
  • providing any necessary safety equipment to ensure the safe use of laser
  • reporting known or suspected accidents to NIU supervisor and LSO immediately

Roles and Responsibilities of Laser Operators

  • attending/completing required NIU laser safety training
  • becoming familiar with specific safety hazards of lasers in a lab area
  • following operating and emergency procedures established by your principal investigator
  • using Class 3b or Class 4 lasers only if specifically authorized and hazards are understood
  • reporting known or suspected accidents to the principal investigator and NIU LSO
    For serious injury from a laser - medical attention should always be the 1st priority and then report.
  • informing lab visitors about and protecting any spectators from all potential laser hazards

Roles and Responsibilities of the LSO

  • providing assistance in evaluating and controlling hazards
  • maintaining records of lasers and laser operators and registering class 3b and 4 lasers with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Nuclear Safety
  • participating in accident investigations involving lasers
  • providing laser safety training
  • performing semi-annual inspections of class 3b and 4 lasers and laser labs in use at NIU
  • suspending any laser operation that constitutes a hazard to laser operator, NIU student or member of the general public

 

Lasers have become a prominent tool in many research areas at Northern Illinois University. If improperly used or controlled, class 3b and 4 lasers (see Section 4.0: Laser Classification) can produce injuries (such as burns, blindness, or electrocution) to operators and other personnel, including uninitiated visitors to laboratories and cause significant damage to property.

Individual users of these high-powered lasers must be adequately trained to ensure full understanding of the safety practices outlined in NIU's laser safety program and the State regulations.

Laser Safety Committee Chair:
Mark Frank, Ph.D.
Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences
(815) 753-8395