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SEC-011: Laser Safety

Date: 08/01/2005 Status: Final
Last Revised: 02/18/2022
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Vice President for Research
Applies To:

Academic Division and the College at Wise.

Reason for Policy:

Lasers are commonly used in the course of research and education, and radiation emitted from lasers can present a physical hazard to individuals and building structures. This policy is to protect faculty, staff, students, and University buildings from exposure to hazardous levels of laser radiation and to other hazards that can be generated by laser devices.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Class 3B Laser:A laser system that may be hazardous under direct and specular reflection viewing conditions, but diffuse reflection is usually not a hazard. Normally not a fire hazard. Specific controls are required for Class 3B lasers.
  • Class 4 Laser:A laser system that is a hazard to the eye or skin from the direct beam and sometimes from a diffuse reflection and can also be a fire hazard. Significant controls are required.
Policy Statement:

Class 3B and Class 4 lasers must be registered with the University Laser Safety Officer and approved prior to operation. Faculty, staff, and students must comply with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations which apply to the safe use and disposal of Class 3B and Class 4 lasers. Additionally, consensus standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)1 are to be employed as appropriate to protect personnel and the environment from potentially adverse exposures to Class 3B and Class 4 lasers.

1 ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Standard Safe Use of Lasers, Z136.1; Safe Use of Lasers in Educational Institutions, Z136.5; Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing, Z136.8.

Compliance with Policy:
Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination in accordance with relevant University policies. Non-compliance with safety and health regulations may be subject to enforcement and penalties as defined by Code of Virginia § 40.1-49.4.

Questions about this policy should be directed to Environmental Health & Safety.


See EHS Laser Safety webpage for additional information to register academic and medical lasers.

Major Category:
Safety, Security and Environmental Quality
Next Scheduled Review:
Approved By, Date:
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 08/01/2005
Revision History:
Revised 2/18/22; Added Compliance Section 2/26/20; Updated 4/20/18; 11/3/11, 8/25/08.