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Rage against Michigan State Laser Saftey

jkguest

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Hello all,
A few months ago, I visited Michigan State University in order to recieve my chemistry merit badge (working on Eagle Scout :D). While I was there, we got a tour of the science department. One such area we got to see was the laser area. They had a high powered green labbie (forget the exact power but it was at least 200mW) and a UV dye laser. The dye laser was 2W :drool:. Before entering they said they would give us glasses so we won't get eye damage from the lasers. This pleased me until I actually recieved the glasses, they were just normal safety glasses! :wtf: These offered no protection at all and I told this to guy leading us (repeatedly). They just kind of ignored me. When we went into the room the students researching in there didn't seemed to realize that they needed glasses either. With them working in there for research most of the day, I imagine they would lose a lot of their vision. My eyes hurt from just glancing at the dot, especially when he started burning a buisness card. I was kinda pissed off about their lack of safety and it just goes to show how little most people know about lasers.
 

IsaacT

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That is a somewhat disturbing practice for education people. Granted, i am guilty of not using my safety glasses as much as I should, and I probably don't have perfect 20/20 vision anymore, but I elect to neglect knowing the potential hazards and understanding and implementing proper handling to lessen said hazards.
 

InfinitusEquitas

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If the lasers are completely stationary, the beam path cannot be easily crossed, and there is a beamdump, they are probably being safe. I hope that was the case with the university lab.

Unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if they safety standards are lax though. People tend to get comfortable over time with dangerous things... chemicals, guns, lasers, etc,. They also tend to get set in their ways, and once they do, despite it being the nature of life, most people do not like change, and resist it.

I suggest contacting the head of the department directly, and CCing whatever is the legal department at the university, with an email relaying your experience. Hopefully that will force them to actually look at the issue rather than just dismiss it as coming from a young kid that doesn't know what he's talking about.
 

jkguest

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If the lasers are completely stationary, the beam path cannot be easily crossed, and there is a beamdump, they are probably being safe. I hope that was the case with the university lab.

Unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if they safety standards are lax though. People tend to get comfortable over time with dangerous things... chemicals, guns, lasers, etc,. They also tend to get set in their ways, and once they do, despite it being the nature of life, most people do not like change, and resist it.

I suggest contacting the head of the department directly, and CCing whatever is the legal department at the university, with an email relaying your experience. Hopefully that will force them to actually look at the issue rather than just dismiss it as coming from a young kid that doesn't know what he's talking about.
I may in fact do just that. Both of the beams were stationary, but the beams were within an inch or so of the table so they would be easy to accidently break. Neither lasers had beam dumps though, just a piece of black metal. What was particularly terrible was there was actually a reflection from dye laser that would hit you as you walked past. It wasn't good enough to feel heat but it was eye level for some of my shorter friends. Also, yes most people usually dismiss me for some little kid and figure they would know if they need glasses because they're the "experts". Slightly off topic, the reaction of people is always comical when they realize I do know a lot more on certain subjects than them, such as arguing with high school students who have only learned classical mechanics and don't understand quantum effects. Or when one of my friends claim they have a 5W green handheld laser.
 




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