THE SAFETY OF LASER LIGHTING DISPLAYS
Laser safety information
The Safety of laser lighting displays
Note: All lasers present a hazard if safety guidelines are not followed.
What you will find on this page
Your duties as client/organiser
Where you have contracted an organisation/individual to design, install, align and operate a laser display for you, eg a laser display company, just like any other contractor, you must take reasonable steps to ensure they are competent and adequately resourced to undertake their safety role effectively.
Your duties as client/organiser
Whatever the scale of the laser display, make sure there is a clear understanding within the organising team about who will be responsible for safety matters. Also, have systems in place to help parties cooperate and communicate with each other and coordinate their work.
What you should know
If the display involves the use of hazardous lasers with high radiant powers (typically from 200mW to 40W+ ie class 3B &4 lasers) then action will be required to control the risk of a significant eye injury. High power lasers with radiant powers that exceed around 500mW may also burn skin on contact and can be a fire risk.
Other hazards include outdoor laser display beams dazzling passing motorists, pilots etc.
What you should do
You need to think about this in relation to normal equipment operation and fault conditions eg if a fault occurs have an emergency shut down plan, which ensures the laser beam isn’t concentrated into an audience/work area where people may be harmed.
In particular, the following situations need to be considered during planning and system design:
• Installation and alignment of the laser display;
• pre-display checks and operation; and
• planned audience participation ie exposure / scanning.
Depending on the scale, complexity and type of display and work undertaken, laser beam safety controls may include one or a combination of:
• Substitution – using a non-hazardous laser;
• For hazardous lasers – engineering design features which prevent equipment displacement/misalignment, beam enclosures, blanking plates, scan failure safety systems and emergency stop functions that terminate a display if problems occur;
• Suitable handover arrangements between a supplier/installer and display operator (if different) including information about safe operation, checks &maintenance;
• Operational controls such as crowd barriers/warning signs and stewards to keep people away from no-go areas, use of competent operators and an appropriate level of supervision to ensure safe systems of work are followed, well-practised emergency shutdown procedures;
• Eye protection and fire proof gloves/overalls for those people engaged in alignment and setting up procedures;
• Following Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) guidance to ensure beams are projected away from airports and flight paths and NOTAMs (Notice to airman) filed.
More detailed guidance on the safety of display laser installations is available from the Professional Lighting and Sound Association
This is a free, HSE endorsed industry technical guide, which covers organisation and planning, system design, installation and alignment, pre-display checks, operationand post-display analysis. It replaces HSE’s guidance HS(G) 95 ‘The radiation safety of lasers used for display purposes’, which has been withdrawn.
General HSE guidance about optical radiation safety and associated legislation