LVR Optical - Laser & Optical Radiation Safety

BLOG: EN 60825-1:2014 ~ What does it mean?

This is a reference that appears frequently when a person is working with laser products, but what exactly does it mean? It is a number that should appear in the product’s sales literature, in the user manual, and on the product itself.

The reference EN 60825-1:2014 is the name of product safety standard that all laser products must adhere to if they are being sold and used anywhere within the European Union. Having said that, it’s not just European member states that adopt the standard, for is used world over, having been developed by the IEC, (International Electrotechnical Commission).

Of most importance to the end user is the laser classification scheme it defines. It is this standardised scheme that indicates the risk involved in using the product, and hence, what precautions should be taken when the product is being used. The highest risk category defined in the standard is Class 4, which pose a serious risk of eye damage from both direct and indirect reflections, is able to burn skin, and act as an ignition source for materials. It is this product safety standard that defines what makes a laser applicable to a particular class. i.e. it defines the laser classes, and classification parameters relevant to each class.

The safety standard also states what safety features must be included with each type of product based on the classification. If a manufacturer is claiming compliance with EN 60825-1:2014, then the supplier of the laser has a legal duty to ensure all the features required by the standard are included, and are not optional extras. It is not acceptable for a manufacturer to miss off a safety feature because, either the manufacturer does not agree with it, or it adds cost to the product (both excuses we’ve seen some suppliers use!). The minimum safety requirements are there for good reason, and any product that does not feature all of them and is being used in the UK or Europe, is putting the end user at risk of prosecution for using what is considered unsafe equipment in the work place, (because it doesn’t meet the minimum specifications of the standard), and of course, creates a risk to where it is being used.

Other things EN 60825-1:2014 includes is information on is the product labelling, and the laser exposure limits (MPE), for safe viewing.

BS EN 60825-1:2014

What the standard is not, is a user guide for laser safety. It is primarily a product safety standard that manufacturers must adhere to. It is however useful for end users to be aware of though, as it allows them to check with their supplier that the product being purchased is compliant and legal to use. (with lasers being less mainstream and mature as other products, unfortunately, we’ve seen that there is considerable variation with what suppliers sell compliant product or not – even though most will ‘claim’ their product is compliant as part of the sales pitch).

The ‘60825’ series of standards relate to laser products, and while the ‘-1’ is the overarching standard in the series, there are a couple of other documents in the series that would be of interest to the end user as they are intended to be user guides on safety. For light show applications, IEC/TR 60825-3:2008 provides specific guidance for laser light show applications. This document defines things such as the 3m separation distance etc. While the IEC/TR 60825-14:2004 document provides more general laser safety guidance and information for laser users.

So, does using a laser projector that is ‘60825’ compliant mean the show will be safe? No. Using any Class 3B or Class 4 product requires careful planning and operation by a person that is knowledgeable of the risk, and what precautions should be taken. The ‘60825’ compliant part just means that he equipment being used has the minimum legally required safety features present for the product.

The standards are available for purchase at the British Standards Institute (BSI). The reference section of a library will also have access to them.

BS EN 60825-1:2014 Safety of laser products. Equipment classification and requirements

PD IEC/TR 60825-3:2008 Safety of laser products. Guidance for laser displays and shows

PD IEC/TR 60825-14:2004 Safety of laser products. A user’s guide

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