Laser Safety

LASER MATERIALS PROCESSING has special features related to occupational safety, that all personnel working with the lasers must be aware of. This is because at laser power levels used in laser materials processing, laser radiation can cause severe tissue damage and, in the worst case, visual impairment. In addition, laser radiation is often invisible and dangerous for up to hundreds of meters.

FIBER LASERS, which have become very common in industrial laser applications in recent years, are particularly dangerous to the human eye because their wavelength is close to the wavelength of visible light. The lens system of the eye focuses the radiation on the retina at the back of the eye, so that even reflections from the laser beam can cause visual impairment. In addition, the laser beam or its reflections can also cause skin burns or ignite fires.

Due to the safety risks, laser materials processing systems are subject to statutory requirements regarding e.g., enclosures, warning signs, personal protective equipment, documentation, and training.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about laser safety:

Our old flatbed laser cutting system does not have safety enclosure. Why all new fiber laser cutting systems have a safety enclosure?

Previous generations of laser cutting machines typically used a carbon dioxide laser with a wavelength that does not pass through the surface layers of the eye. Therefore, weak reflections do not pose a risk of retinal injury, unlike reflections of a fiber laser beam. But it should be noted that an intense reflection or direct beam from a carbon dioxide laser, as well, can cause eye or skin injuries or ignite fires.

What material is the safety enclosure typically made of?

Typically, the safety enclosure is made of steel or aluminum sheet, and any windows are made of special mineral glass or acrylic. Before choosing the design and material of the enclosure, the maximum power density of the laser radiation on the enclosure must be determined. In some cases, the enclosure would become so heavy that it makes more sense to implement the enclosure with so called active protective guards that detect the laser beam on the inner surface of the enclosure and turn off the laser before the laser beam passes through the housing.

Why do laser devices always have a lot of warning signs?

The purpose of the warning signs is to ensure that users of laser equipment know that they are handling lasers that can be hazardous to health. In the EU, as in many other countries, legislation obliges manufacturers and importers of laser equipment to affix standard warning labels to laser equipment. In the EU, as in many other countries, the international standard IEC 60825-1 applies. The ANSI Z136.1 applicable in the United States differs very little from the IEC standard.

Are handheld laser welding machines safe to use?

Handheld laser welding machines are typically fiber lasers, and even relatively weak reflections from the workpiece can cause permanent visual impairment. Therefore, the welder must wear laser safety goggles suitable for the wavelength of the laser in question. In addition, all persons who may be exposed to reflections must wear laser safety goggles. In general, it is recommended that the welding is carried out inside a laser-safe area where bystanders have no access.

The CE mark affixed to the device and the declaration of conformity issued by the manufacturer / importer guarantee that the device is safe to use, if welders and other personnel working in the hazard zone are properly informed about the risks associated with the device.

The same basic principles apply to all hand-held laser devices that have entered the market in recent years.

IONIX OY is an expert in laser safety. We take responsibility for the safety of the laser equipment we supply. Additionally, we provide consultation services to all organizations working with lasers.  Ask for more information >>>