ASC Z136


ASC Z136 Update

The annual meeting of ASC Z136 was held on Sunday, March 13 in San Jose, California in conjunction with the International Laser Safety Conference (ILSC). In addition to reporting officers’ and chairs’ appointments and reviewing the activities of the previous year, presentations were made on the topics of furloughing standards subcommittees, marking content of revisions [documents], content of vertical standards, and technical subcommittees’ coordination with standards subcommittees. The topic of membership recruitment was revisited, and items added in new business included a call to provide the public with advisory information on high-powered handheld lasers and whether a safety-rated advisory committee should be created.


  • SSC-4 (Measurements) due to the nature of this Recommended Practice, Chair Sheldon Zimmerman recommended furloughing the subcommittee until the revision of the Z136.1 standard has been published.
  • SSC-5 (Educational Institutions) Chair Fred Seeber recommended the subcommittee remain on furlough until publication of the Z136.1 revision.
  • SSC-7 (Eyewear & Protective Barriers) Chair Jim Sheehy and member Mark McLear both spoke in favor of reconvening the subcommittee, with the intention of reaffirming the current document and then initiating a revision of the document. A ballot will be distributed to affirm reconvening the subcommittee.

There was discussion of whether drafts for vote should be marked line-by-line or if an executive summary of changes would be sufficient for voting members’ review. The pros and cons of both approaches were discussed; the negative aspect of the executive summary was the possibility of overlooking a “minor” change that could be significant in retrospect, while the negative aspect of the line-by-line approach may include indecipherable change listings (points becoming lost among markings).

In an effort to resolve coordination between the technical subcommittees (TSCs) and the SSCs, possible solutions to keep the standards on their timelines included establishing and utilizing a formal coordination document, and limiting TSCs sectional revisions to the first year of standard development. It was noted that coordination may take different forms: sectional rewrites, review by chair, specific technical input and revision of non-normative areas. In the case of revision of non-normative areas, e.g., examples, this material cannot be developed until the document is well underway.

Dr. Ben Rockwell, chair of standards subcommittee 1 (SSC-1) presented information pertaining to the ongoing development of vertical standards and future revisions of the Z136.1 standard. 

As agreed upon by the committee in 2005, only the truly “horizontal”, universally applicable material in the Z136.1 standard will remain: definitions where applicable, classification, MPEs, and the very fundamental concepts of control measures. Vertical application standards will deal with user controls in context of the application.  As stated in the Z136.1-2007, “Other special application standards within the Z136 series may deviate from the requirements of this standard. Each deviation is valid only for applications within the scope of the standard in which it appears.”

Recommendations from the ADCOM, led by ASC Z136 chair Dr. Bob Thomas include efforts to enumerate organizations as candidates for membership and, given the venue, a request to ILSC chairs to approach [ILSC] speakers as potential individual members to the committee. ASC Z136 leaders manned the combined ASC Z136/BLS booth during the ILSC Sponsor Reception; both of which received a substantial number of candidate inquiries. Subcommittee chairs and members were charged with setting subcommittee recruitment goals for the next year. Finally, LIA will continue membership recruitment efforts through mailings, flyers and newsletter articles.

Peter Baker broached a subject of growing concern to LIA  ̶  dealing with public availability to high-powered handheld lasers (pointers). He cited reports of green lasers with IR-blocking filters removed (producing much higher output powers), as well as green lasers with much higher than labeled powers as reported in The dangerous dark companion of bright green lasers (SPIE Newsroom, 10 January 2011)[1].

This topic was discussed throughout ILSC, first addressed in the plenary session[2] and later the featured panel discussion of the Hot Topics Luncheon. Goldwasser et al[3] addressed controlling the associated hazards of these handheld lasers,

“In addition to high power lasers disguised as relatively harmless 5 mW laser pointers, several manufacturers also offer completely portable handheld laser the size of a flashlight, with output powers of well over one watt. Again, the small size, relatively low cost, unrestricted availability, and complete mobility of these devices conspire to both decrease the perceived hazard and increase the difficulty in implementing safety control measures.”

It is anticipated that LIA will promulgate additional information to the public as it becomes available.

[1] Lead author, Jemellie Galang presented a follow-up poster paper at ILSC entitled “A Green Laser Pointer Hazard”.

[2] McLin, L.N. (2011) Dazzling and High-Powered Laser Pointers, ILSC 2011 Conference Proceedings, Laser Institute of America, Florida, p. 52-59.

[3] Goldwasser, S.M., Edwards, B. (2011) Hidden Menace: Recognizing and Controlling the Hazards Posed by Smaller and Lower Power Lasers, ILSC 2011 Conference Proceedings, Laser Institute of America, Florida, p.269-274.

Due to health concerns, the spring CLSO/CMLSO exam is being cancelled and the 2020 DOE workshop has been postponed. The fall exam will be held be held prior to the 2020 DOE workshop on August 17th, 2020. Our office team is working remotely and ready to assist you during our regular business hours!

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