Laser Safety Standards
Handling lasers can be dangerous to the user. That’s why safety measures have been put in place as a form of protection. IEC 60825-1 has become the standard of laser products on an international level and is seen as a common safety standard in countries that belong to the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).
The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) is a bureau established under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Department of Health and Human Resources. It has fallen upon the CDRH to regulate manufactured laser products to increase safety standards. August 2, 1976 marks an important date in the laser product industry. All laser products that have entered the market place after this particular date must comply with the regulations of the CDRH.
This regulation is known as the Federal Laser Product Performance Standard (FLPPS). It is commonly acknowledged as 21CFR subchapter parts 1040.10 and 1040.11. There are four categories that identify the hazards associated with using lasers. The FLPPS created these categories as a safety measure to keep the human operators as safe as possible while using laser products. These categories include classes I, II, IIIa, IIIb and IV. Each classification is ranked by its potential of causing damage to the human body.
- Class I laser product – laser products that fall under the class 1 category restricts human access while the machine is in use. Laser radiation may exceed acceptable emission limits which is outlined in Table I of 21CFR Subchapter J Part 1040.10. Though it may sound contrary to what has already been stated up till this point, but class 1 laser products are not considered hazardous.
- Class II laser product – class II laser products permits human access while the machine is in use according to the emission limits contained in Table II-A of 21 CFR Subchapter J Part 1040.10, but restricts human access when laser radiation exceeds the emission limits contained in Table II of 21 CFR Subchapter J Part 1040.10. Unlike Class 1 products, class II products are seen as a hazard when viewed on a regular basis.
- Class IIIa laser product – class IIIa laser products permits human access while the machine is in use according to the emission limits contained in Table II of 21 CFR Subchapter J Part 1040.10, but restricts human access when laser radiation exceeds the emission limits contained in Table III-A of 21 CFR Subchapter J Part 1040.10. Class IIIa laser products pose a significant danger as opposed to the other classes up until this point. The radiation exposure from a laser beam can cause a either a chronic viewing hazard or an intrabeam viewing hazard. An acute viewing hazard can especially occur when optical instruments are involved.
- Class IIIb laser product – class IIIb laser products permits human access while the machine is in use according to the emission limits contained in Table III-A, but restricts human access when laser radiation exceeds the emission limits contained in III-B of 21 CFR Subchapter J Part 1040.10. Laser radiation from Class IIIb laser products can have a sever negative on the eyes and skin upon direct contact. Class IIIb can sometimes come with removable panels that, when removed, can change the level of radiation. The change in radiation can from Class II to Class IV.
- Class IV laser product – Class IV laser product – class IV laser products permits human access while the machine is in use according to the emission limits contained in Table III-B of 21 CFR Subchapter J Part 1040.10. Laser radiation from Class IV laser products can cause issues for the skin and eyes for both scattered and direct contact with radiation. Just like Class IIIb laser products, Class IV laser products may you to allow a removable panel that can expose the user to radiation levels that range from Class II to Class IV.
Disadvantage of Laser Triangulation Sensors
Laser sensors do not work well in dirty environments that have water, oil, or debris present. They also only operate in 0- 50C temperature ranges so are not good in extreme temperatures.
For more information, see MTI’s: 1D Laser Systems
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was established to assure safety within the work place. As of this moment in time, OSHA doesn’t have their own laser safety standards. When it comes to implementing laser safety standards, OSHA policies refer to the ANSI Z36, the most generally accepted standard in the laser industry.