Appendix B -
Controlling "Non-Beam" Hazards
Many chemical and physical
hazards other than laser radiation can be associated with laser
operations that must also be adequately controlled. Consult your
Chemical Hygiene plan and contact your designated laboratory
safety supervisor for a list of hazards in your area. Inform your
supervisor of other hazards identified in the laser control area
as well. These hazards are quite often more prevalent and serious
than those associated with exposure to the optical radiation. In
some cases, such as electrocution, these hazards can be life
threatening. These "non-beam" hazards are outlined in this
- Electrical Equipment and Systems
- Always be aware of the high risk of injury and fire in
laser operations because of the presence of electrical power
- The installation, operation, and maintenance of electrical
equipment and systems must conform to the standards stated in
the National Electric Code. Contact Physical Plant for
- Adequate lighting is necessary in controlled areas.
- If lights are extinguished during laser operation, provide
control switches in convenient locations or install a radio
- Luminescent strips should be used to identify table and
equipment corners, switch locations, aisles, etc.
- When natural light is not sufficient for safe egress from
a laser area during an electrical power failure, install
- Ionizing and Non-ionizing Radiation
- A laser operation may involve ionizing radiation that
originates from the presence of radioactive materials or the
use of electrical power in excess of 15 kV .
- Microwave and radio frequency (RF) fields may be generated
by laser systems or support equipment.
- Contact the Office of Radiation Safety (ORS) at 965-6140
to obtain an evaluation of these hazards before starting an
- Hazardous Materials
- Bring into the laser area only those hazardous materials
that are needed for the operation.
- All hazardous materials must be properly used, stored and
controlled. Consult Materials Safety Data Sheets, the Chemical
Hygiene Plan and Risk Management for information.
- Do not allow laser beams or strong reflections to impinge
on combustible materials, explosives, highly flammable liquids
or gases or substances that decompose into highly toxic
products under elevated temperatures, without providing
- Conduct or sponsor tests that establish the effects of
beam interactions with hazardous materials. Test results can
be used to determine safe parameters for laser operation.
- Dyes and Solutions
- Dye lasers normally use a lasing medium composed of a
complex fluorescent organic dye dissolved in an organic
solvent. These dyes vary greatly in toxicity, mutagenicity,
and potential carcinogenicity.
- All dyes must be treated as hazardous chemicals. Most
solvents suitable for dye solutions are flammable and toxic by
inhalation and/or skin absorption.
- Obtain Material Safety Data Sheets for all dyes and
- Use and store all dyes and solvents in accordance with the
University's Chemical Hygiene Plan.
- Prepare/handle dye-solutions inside a chemical fume hood.
- Wear a lab coat, eye protection and gloves. Call Risk
Management for assistance in glove selection.
- Pressure-test all dye laser components before using dye
solutions. Pay particular attention to tubing connections.
- Install spill pans under pumps and reservoirs.
- Be alert to contaminated parts.
- Keep dye mixing areas clean.