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FSU Safety Manual


Pages: Controlling Associated Laser Hazards

Many chemical and physical hazards other than laser radiation can be found in the laser area that must also be adequately controlled.

Electrical Equipment and Systems

  • Always be aware of the high risk of injury and fire during laser operations because of the presence of electrical power sources.
  • The installation, operation, and maintenance of electrical equipment and systems must conform to standards stated in the National Electric Code (NFPA 70-2002). Contact EH&S for assistance.


  • Adequate lighting is necessary in controlled areas.
  • If lights are extinguished during laser operation, provide control switches in convenient locations or install a radio-controlled switch.
  • Luminescent strips/tape should be used to identify table and equipment corners, switch locations, aisles, etc.
  • When ambient light is not sufficient for a safe egress from a laser area during an electrical power failure, install emergency egress lighting.

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 15kV.
  • If radioactive material is present in the laser system, "Caution- Radioactive Material" signs must be prominently displayed. If X-rays are generated a "Caution-X-Rays" sign must be posted.
  • Microwave and radio frequency (RF) fields may be generated by laser systems or ancillary equipment.
  • Contact the Radiation Safety Office at 644-8802 for evaluation of these hazards before starting an operation.

Hazardous Materials

  • Bring into the laser area only those hazardous materials that are essential for the operation or experiment.
  • All hazardous materials must be properly used, stored and controlled. Consult Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and EH&S for information and refer to Chemical Safety.
  • Do not allow laser beams and strong reflections to impinge on combustible materials, explosives, highly flammable liquids or gases or substances that decompose into toxic products under elevated temperatures, without providing adequate controls.
  • Conduct or sponsor tests that establish the effects of beam interactions with hazardous materials. Findings can be used to determine safe parameters for laser operation.

Dyes and Solutions

  • Dye lasers normally use a lasing medium composed of 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 SDS sheets from the manufacturer for all dyes and solvents or refer to resources provided in Chemical Safety.
  • Use and store all dyes and solvents in accordance with SDS sheets.
  • Prepare and handle dye-solutions inside a chemical fume hood.
  • Wear a lab coat, eye protection, and gloves.
  • Pressure test all dye laser components before using dye solutions. Pay close attention to tubing connections.
  • Install spill pans under pumps and reservoirs.
  • Keep dye-mixing areas clean.

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