BLOG: UK Laser Display Safety Guidance 2017
Since its publication in 1996, the Health and Safety Executive’s HS(G)95, The Radiation Safety of Lasers for Display Purposes, has been the mainstay of accessible guidance for using lasers in entertainment applications, referenced by users, venue operators, and enforcement bodies alike. It is for this reason that even though HS(G)95 has now officially been depreciated and withdrawn from HSE’s website, with references to it being so embedded among stakeholders, the reference number for which the guidance became affectionately known as, is going to naturally take a little time to disappear.
Why was HS(G)95 withdrawn?
One of the objectives of the coalition government in 2013 was to be seen to be cutting red-tape, and reducing the regulation of business. With HS(G)95 starting show its age, it was due for an update review, but rather than update the guidance through HSE, it was felt the guidance was a good candidate to be discharged from its books. It was decided that any guidance on this subject going forward should be written by the sector itself. PLASA (Professional Light and Sound Association), stepped forward overseeing the creation and publication of industry guidance that is intended to be an evolution of the HS(G)95. This is now freely available from PLASA’s website.
So, with HS(G)95 officially withdrawn, what guidance exists for light show users in the UK?
PLASA - Guidance for the Safety of Display Lasers
Available as a free download from PLASA’s website, providing a broad overview on how lasers should be used for display applications.
This guidance is based on much of the material that HSE originally used in HS(G)95, that was made available to PLASA to assist in preparing the industry guidance. Following the guidance is not compulsory, and you are free to take other action. PLASA however states that if you do follow the guidance you are probably doing enough to comply with the law.
British Standards Institute - Safety of Laser Products – Part 3. Guidance for Laser Displays and Shows.
BSI Reference PD IEC TR 60825-3:2008
Available to purchase* from BSI’s website, this guidance has been produced by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which is the same body that creates a wide range of product safety standards, including the laser product safety standard IEC 60825-1:2014, used for product compliance across European member states.
The guidance is the result of the combined efforts and consensus of international laser safety expertise, representing consensus views on good practice for those working with lasers for display and show applications. Although this ‘Part 3’ guidance extends the more general ‘Part 14’ guidance, for most users it can be read in its own right, providing advice specific to the light show sector. It gives guidance on the planning and design, set-up, and conduct of laser displays that use Class 3B and Class 4 lasers.
British Standards Institute - Safety of Laser Products – Part 14. A User’s Guide
PD IEC TR 60825-14:2004
Available to purchase* from BSI’s website, this guidance, like the Part 3 guidance for laser shows and displays, has been created by an international group of laser safety experts within IEC representing different countries. The result of which is a 94-page document outlining good practice for persons working with, and having to manage the safety of using laser products. It reflects part of the core knowledge set a properly qualified Laser Safety Officer would be expected to have.
* Availability of British Standards Institute document. BSI documents may be purchased online as either hardcopy or digital form, from shop.bsigroup.com. It is also possible to view BSI documents free of charge in the reference section of most major public libraries in the United Kingdom.
The available guidance can be summarised as follows:
What guidance should I use?
A person involved with planning, installing and operating typical light show applications using Class 3B or Class 4 laser systems should be familiar with the contents of both the BSI ‘Part 3’ guidance and the PLASA guidance. These documents are both readily accessible*, and there are no real inconsistencies / differences between them.
The important point to remember is that the guidance is there to help protect people against suffering damage to eyes and skin. General H&S regulations require good risk assessment and precautions to be carried out and implemented by providers, a point further supported by The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010, which outline specific requirements for users of Class 3B and Class 4 lasers.
The Part 1 and Part 14 documents published by BSI are primarily intended for manufacturers and laser safety professionals, but a useful read for light show providers, especially if the laser application is complex and there is an exposure potential.
LVR Optical provide industry specific training covering the legal requirements and good practice for laser light show applications.
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