ANSI Z136.8 Standard: Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development or Testing
Laser use in the dynamic world of research, development and testing can present quite the challenge to Laser Safety Officers no matter their level of experience. From the production of non-certified homebuilt lasers, fiber lasers to ensuring utilization of proper eyewear and alignment techniques, a research and development (R&D) LSO must be able to adapt to each situation that arises! ANSI Z136.8 introduces new guidance specific to R&D that will help LSOs meet the unique challenges of their facility. Z136.8 manages to include all the relevant information from Z136.1 (excluding MPE values) in a condensed format that, in conjunction with newly added guidance specific to R&D, acts as an invaluable tool to LSOs at R&D facilities. The standard allows for quick reference to proper guidance on the issues that an R&D LSO faces on a daily basis. It is also the first Z136 with color images and updated CAD figures.
In addition, it relays information on a number of topics previously not present in the Z136 series. Examples include laser safety in user facilities, guidance on a critical training issue, and On the Job Training (OJT). It contains references on where to get current information on export control of laser technology. The critical and real life issue of alignment eyewear is discussed – not only that it is acceptable, but guidance is given on how to select such eyewear. For the first time, the use of the signal word “Warning” is approved and discussed, as well as stating lack of CDRH controls in homemade lasers is acceptable.
All LSOs know the importance of getting out in the field and doing audits. Well, Z136.8 has two sample audit forms for laser use areas as well as an audit form to evaluate one’s own program. Another one of the new elements of the Z136.8 is the folding of the evaluation of beam paths and beam interaction into the hazard evaluation process and consideration of use area to determine the level of controls.
Very simply, the new Z136.8 Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing provides guidance to the real world that the LSO faces in this challenging environment. It not only provides the LSO with better professional judgment and support, but also increases their ability to be an effective safety consultant in the constantly changing world of research and development. It is a laser guidance source that R&D LSOs have been looking for.