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Laser Safety Checklist

Av8tor

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Hello LPF,

As I am new to Lasers and inspired by Radim (Thank You Radim) I decided to make a Safety Checklist for myself that I can laminate and keep with an expo marker with my lasers to use when I want to use My lasers. I couldn't find anything in quite this simple applicable format when searching online. I saw the checklist posted in the "Laser Safety Checklist" but was hoping it was okay that I share this as it's a PDF that anyone can download and print out if they'd like. I typed all my local Emergency information in on mine, however I added the blank lines on this one so anyone who wished to use it could write their local information in.

MODS-If this is the wrong location, or it is inappropriate to share this PDF given the current safety checklist please delete this thread.

If anyone has recommendations to add/or change please share them with me and I will update it accordingly! Thank you everyone and I hope someone can find this helpful
 

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paul1598419

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If that works for you, Av8tor, then have at it. I have found that as long as you are aware of your surroundings and people around you, you can be safe. I have heard tales of people accidently turning a hand held laser on while it has sitting in their lap. I would never have a laser out of my control when it is out. If it can't be turned on accidently and you are aware of the people and reflective surfaces, an accident that can lead to horrible results becomes far less likely.
 

Av8tor

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Thank you very much for your input Paul, that's what I was thinking initially but after reading many posts/threads involving horror stories even in laboratory settings I started to doubt my initial assessment. Because of that, I started to question myself and worried maybe there is a lot that can happen that I don't have the foresight for?! What are your thoughts on the less commonly thought of dangers? If you don't mind me asking, how long have you been using high-powered lasers? I spent years working in Skydiving and one thing I learned is the experienced jumpers had a lot of wisdom to share, and the smart thing to do was listen. I'd love to hear what some commonly overlooked safety practices are in your opinion and recommendations you may have for a new user to high-power lasers.

Another member here made mention of safety protocols and really liked that idea and thought it would be really helpful especially while I'm getting familiar with them so I don't let my excitement to use them get the best of me.:horse:
 

paul1598419

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Well there are several classes of lasers to start out. What I call high powered laser are ones that are Class IV. That is any laser 500 mW and above. Between 5 mW and 500 mW are the Class IIIB lasers. Regardless of the wavelength of a laser the power it is outputting is the same for every laser that measures the same power. For instance, a two watt laser is not only a danger to your eyes, but will also burn your skin, start fires, and can burn many things you may be unaware of. After warning a full grown man of these dangers, he managed to have one in his coat pocket and somehow turned it on without knowing it. It burned a huge hole in his pocket and he was still unaware because he was outdoors and couldn't smell his coat burning. He is lucky he didn't catch fire himself. We have laser diodes available to us that can output as much as 7+ watts of optical power. At a close distance and focused correctly it will burn through spring steel. You can't judge the power of a laser by looking at it, no matter how many people new to lasers believe that they can.

I know you have been warned and are aware of the correct safety goggles needed to protect yourself and others from an accident that will leave you blind, so I will only say that they are essential , most especially when you are new to lasers as you will never see the accident coming that will leave you or someone you know blind in one eye. The visible range of laser light is normally considered to be from 400nm to 700nm. But, this is not cut in stone as what one person is able to see, another may not. There are green laser pointers that are called diode pumped solid state lasers and the most common wavelength is the 532nm green laser. It uses an 808nm pump diode that is barely visible to most people in powers of a full watt or more. These pointers have an efficiency of ~20% which means that the optical power of the pump diode for a 200 mW 532nm laser is 1 watt. If you have a 532nm laser that is not working for some unknown reason, NEVER look into the laser to see if you can see something. The crystals may have been knocked out of alignment and that high power invisible 808nm laser light may still be there and will blind you instantly.

These are just a few of the many things that can go wrong and you should be aware of all of them. Never have a laser out that is not in your control at all times. Don't lay it down to do something else, don't allow it to be in your pockets with the batteries inside as you are not in control of it. Don't leave batteries inside the laser that doesn't a key lock or another way of keeping it from accidentally being turned on, and learn about Li-ion battery safety, as they are dangerous all by themselves. So, if storing a laser, don't leave Li-ion batteries in it for prolonged periods of time. These are but a few of the dangers accompanying laser pointers and any laser really. I hope this helps you on your way to a safe and enjoyable hobby. :D
 

dden4012

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Is this form a tool you intend to use to educate and train your sisters on laser safety and SOP? It seems to have the feel of it. Its a good idea. Structure is a good supplement to common sense. Short story for you here:

There is one moment in my life I will never forget. I was around 12 years old. My father raised me with traditional southern boy, outdoors, roughing it camping, hunting fishing, even catching and collecting reptiles. Lots of training about gun safety. He thought it was time I graduated from a BB gun and handed down my grandfather's 410 breach shotgun. I was trained with it and had plenty of target practice experience with it.
We went to Ocala to visit the grandparents on their property. Brought the BB gun and 410 with us up there. 22 acres of rolling Ocala high ground.
So one afternoon we went out away from the house and set up some targets and shot some rounds off. It was getting to be dinner time and my grandfather told my father something about getting back to the house. I took that cue and pointed the shotgun away from anyone and began to carefully decock the hammer. Just as the hammer somehow slipped from under my thumb my grandfather walked right into the spot the shotgun was pointed. Shock and terror hit me like nothing I have ever felt since. The round never fired but in my mind I realized it could have and he had no idea what he just did. This experience changed my life. If it had gone off he would have gotten heavy shot to the upper leg.
So what I'm trying to express is if you have ever almost f_ucked up real bad remember that chill and fear you felt when entertaining your idea. It's the gift of vision at stake. Complacency invites catastrophe and Murphy's Law is universal. If something goes wrong YOU are completely responsible for the consequences.

But that's enough time on the soap box for me. I share this to try and preserve what's left of this hobby. At this point no news is good news. I hope you can read between the lines and take something from this.
 

Radim

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Brendan, very nice.

Some tips:

I would add powers of lasers and safety glasses selection. I would use some simple calculation of minimum OD, like:

OD > log (Power in mW/Safe power in mW)

You can use even "=", but it is better to have reserve for overspec lasers. In some cases it still might not be sufficient. I recommend at least to add 1, for the number you get.
Log is decadic and if you are familiar with use of x*10^y notation it is very easy to calculate reliable estimate without calculator in seconds.
For Safe power in mW you can use up to 5 mW. I recommend 1 mW.
Be careful - this is a very simplified and valid only for continuous wave lasers of higher divergence and beam diameter than reference pointer (Safe power). So it is not valid for optics use, negative divergence. Only can be used for visible lasers. In general this formula should use MPE and energy density, where the calculations become more complicated.
The formula just says how much the power has to be reduced by glasses to bring it into safe level - where blink reflex protects you. Basic rule is that OD number 2 for example reduces the power by 100 (laser of 500 mW, looks like 5 mW through glasses with OD 2). OD number 3, reduces by 1000 and so on. Maybe easier, but that's what said by formula in other words.
Take the formula above for illustration purposes only. You need to do more research for understanding these matters. It's your responsibility to ensure safe use of lasers.

Alternatively you might put sticker on your lasers and glasses to make sure which can be used together.

Still glasses are not designed for intentional hit and might be damaged after the hit and therefore cannot be used anymore. In addition OD is not the only parameter, there are much more numbers to care. But the wavelength and OD should be sufficient for common laser use. My Univet goggles for example consider various "OD" (they are named differently) for pulsed lasers, consider also how long they can resist direct hit without damage (in order of seconds). Also there is a chart showing the coverage. Further VLT (how much light can pass it from normal light spectre) and so on.

Also I would have laser classes sheet with warnings handy - to see, what is definitely not safe (for some classes even scattered radiation is dangerous). Do not forget blue light hazard.
You might even consider putting stickers with it (and laser specs) on lasers, which do not have them or are mislabeled. Since I remember all my lasers and noone else is allowed to use them without my supervision, I do not care about them much, but if you wish to bring your sisters into hobby, the good habbits should be adopted. They are even compulsory in labs etc. Check laserpointersafety.com for them.

You might even consider calculation of NOHD and other hazard distances to be aware what space you need for operating laser.

Also I would add some rules like:
  1. Never look into aperture, when batteries or power source is attached. It's like looking into loaded gun barrel.
  2. Finger off the button until ready to fire. (In addition laser activated just before the use.)
  3. Safety (double, tripple...) checked before fire.
  4. Glasses on before fire. Here there might be some exceptions like outdoor use where beam goes to far field and does not terminate close. But before you know them, they should be used always.

It is good for operation to have light colored clothes, no jewelery and so on... Trust me, even 100 mW greenie can cut through your black sport shorts (kind of PE or something) in less than second - my own experience. :D

Do not forget safe storage of lasers and make sure no unauthorized person can use them. Like with weapons, but people in general are more familiar with weapon danger than with laser dangers.

And one tip more practical: Make sure that there is only one laser in operation, when supervising your sisters doing experiments, it is easy to loose full attention. At least at beginnings. Make safe zones, where there is no hazard (like at shooting range you do not stand between gun and target).

Maybe I was inaccurate or missed something (sorry in advance), but I think community will correct me soon...
 
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