Lasers

Health and SafetyUnder the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 [1] employers are required to protect workers from the risks to health from hazardous sources of artificial optical radiation (AOR).  Health and Safety Executive guidance on the implementation of these Regulations is provided in Guidance for employers on the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations (AOR) 2010 [2].

The majority of light sources (e.g. overhead and task lighting, computer screens, photocopiers and printers) are safe and no action needs to be taken under these regulations.  However, some sources of light can cause a risk of ill health such as damage and burns to the skin and eyes.  If a hazardous source of light, such as a dental laser (Class 3B or 4) is used, control measures must be put in place to reduce the risk of harm to staff to as low as reasonably practicable.  The general provision of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (as amended) [3] also apply. Therefore, a risk assessment should be carried out and appropriate risk management provisions put in place as follows:

Appoint a laser protection adviser (LPA) who may be a suitably experienced member of staff or external consultant. NB: Appointment of a LPA is a requirement of practice inspection.

In consultation with the LPA:

  • put in place local rules and ensure these are observed;
  • designate a ‘laser controlled area’.

Display warning signs at entrances to the room containing the laser controlled area.

Provide face shields, goggles or other protective eyewear for both staff and patients.

Provide gloves and coveralls to staff where appropriate.

Provide appropriate documented training to all persons working with the equipment.

Obtain informed consent from patients where a laser is to be employed in their treatment.

Put in place procedures to deal with incidents where a member of staff or patient is potentially over-exposed e.g. referral to a doctor or occupational health service.

More advice on the safe use of lasers in dental treatment can be found in the MHRA publication Guidance on the safe use of lasers, intense light source systems and LEDs in medical, surgical, dental and aesthetic practices [4].

Sources of Information

  1. The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 (www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/1140/pdfs/uksi_20101140_en. (PDF))
  2. Guidance for employers on the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations (AOR) 2010 (www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/nonionising/employers-aor. (PDF))
  3. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3242/pdfs/uksi_19993242_en. (PDF))
  4. Guidance on the safe use of lasers, intense light source systems and LEDs in medical, surgical, dental and aesthetic practices. MHRA Device Bulletin DB2008(03) (2008). (www.mhra.gov.uk/Publications/Safetyguidance/DeviceBulletins/CON014775)