Laser safety at Macquarie University

Macquarie University is committed to the safe use of laser products both on and off campus. Every user of a laser product is required to ensure that they, and any people working under their supervision, follow the correct safety practices.

Please use lasers responsibly. Even a “safe” low power laser can cause harm if not handled with care. Always keep in mind, lasers are not toys!

Laser safety officers

Macquarie University has qualified laser safety officers (UNSW LSO1 qualification) overseeing laser equipment and activities.

  • Dr Benjamin Norton (LSO)
  • Dr Susan Law (Deputy LSO)

All enquiries should be made to the laser safety officer directly.

Laser procurement

If you intend to purchase equipment containing a laser, please arrange a meeting with one of the MQ laser officers to discuss safety requirements before the purchase of the laser product.

Laser classification

Lasers are separated into different classes. Classes 1, 1M, 2, 2M are considered safe when used responsibly. Classes 3R, 3B and 4 are capable of causing physical damage to the eye, skin or both. Any modification to laser equipment may modify its class and alter the level of risk of the instrument. To arrange re-classification of laser equipment please contact one of the laser officers who are qualified to carry out this activity.

Laser registration

All Class 3R, Class 3B and Class 4 laser equipment at Macquarie University are required to be registered with the laser safety officers. Laboratory managers must follow the following procedure before the commissioning of new laser instrumentation:

  • register the laser with a laser safety officer (registration form)
  • complete a risk assessment for the laser installation and initial proposed use
  • establish standard operating procedures
  • ensure all necessary engineering, procedural and personal protective equipment controls are in place

These steps must be discussed with, and provided to, a laser safety officer for approval.

Operator licence

Before beginning work with high-power lasers, new staff and students must undergo a specific laser induction (1). Contact the Laser Safety Officer for details. The induction process consists of several steps:

  • information and awareness of lasers and laser safety
  • completion of a risk assessment
  • an initial eye examination

Hosts of visiting scholars and students should contact a laser safety officer to discuss the appropriate level of induction required before the visitor starts work. An eye test may not be required, but a hazard assessment should be performed to ensure the visitor is aware of local safety features and procedures.

Laser safety alerts and information

Laser pointers and prohibited weapons on campus

Hand-held battery operated devices, such as laser pointers with output powers over 1 milliwatt, are considered a dangerous weapon. The possession of such a device is illegal in NSW without a licence or reasonable excuse. More information about laser pointers are available on the Wiki laser safety site.

If in doubt, please contact a laser safety officer. In the event of dangerous activity, contact security immediately on x9999.

Macquarie library guide

The Macquarie Library holds published literature on laser safety and has compiled an online  guide to the subject.

Australian standards

Accessible from a University computer through the online SAI Global subscription. (3)

  • AS/NZS IEC 60825 series (specifically parts 1, 2, 10 and 14) Safety of laser products
  • AS NZS 2211 series (specifically parts 1, 9 and 10) Safety of laser products.
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