Basic Laser Safety - Basic Safety Precautions
One should exercise the same kinds of safety precautions around lasers as with any other power tool or electrical device paying special attention to eye safety.
NEVER point a laser in someone's eyes, even low power hand held units can cause eye damage due to the focusing effect of the lens in the eye.
Laser Safety glasses/goggles with specially coated lenses are available. The coatings on the lenses are designed to absorb or attenuate certain wavelengths so that if you are accidentally struck in the eye by the beam, damage is minimized. Unfortunately these glasses often make it difficult if not impossible to see the beam. A pair of welders goggles will work as they reduce the light to the eyes by a factor of 10X to 50X. While welding goggles will not give total protection, they may reduce the beam power down to levels where damage is less likely.
Stay outside of any 'safe zone' around lasers at shows. The 'safe zone' is there to prevent audience access to the laser equipment and to prevent spectators [you] from harming themselves or being hit by laser beams.
Higher power static (un-scanned) beams such as those projected by beam tables or reflected from bounce mirrors should be kept above the spectator's heads and out of the audience's reach. The ANSI standard (used internationally) and the CDRH standards (used in the USA) specify that such un-scanned (static) beams are to separated from the audience by 3 meters vertically and 2.5 meters laterally.
To eliminate skin burns, don't place your body parts into high power laser beams.
Many jurisdictions require that appropriate warning signage be placed in areas where lasers are being operated or on the laser system/equipment itself. An example is the "Caution: Laser In Use" sign shown at the top of these pages. The most common sign required is the "Danger Laser Radiation" sign reproduced below. This sign contains an area at the bottom where the details of the laser type (E.G.: Argon Laser) and output power (E.G.: 100 mW) are inserted. Be sure to find out if signage is required in your jurisdiction and make sure the appropriate signs are posted.
Download a full size version of this sign - LaserDangerSign.zip 42 KB
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