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laser-power-classes-and-safety-glasses

  • Which Laser Power Classes need Laser Safety Glasses?

    Lasers can be divided into four basic classes according to their potential to inflict harm on the user or bystanders.
     
    CLASS I LASERS are low-powered and do not emit hazardous radiation under normal operating conditions because they are completely enclosed. Class I lasers are exempt from any control measures. Equipment, such as laser printers and laser disc players, are examples of this class.
     
    CLASS II LASERS emit accessible visible laser light with power levels less than 1 mW radiant power and are capable of creating eye damage through chronic exposure. The human eye blink reflex, which occurs within 0.25 seconds of exposure to the Class II laser beam, provides adequate protection. It is possible to overcome the blink response and stare into the Class II laser long enough to damage the eye. Class II lasers are exempt from any control measures. Some visible continuous wave Helium-Neon lasers and some laser pointers are an example of Class II lasers.
     
    CLASS IIa LASERS are special purpose lasers that emit accessible visible laser light with power levels less than 1 mW radiant power and are not intended for viewing. This class of lasers causes injuries when viewed directly for more than 1,000 seconds. Class IIa lasers are exempt from any control measures. Grocery store scanners are examples of Class IIa lasers.
     
    CLASS IIIa LASERS are systems with power levels of 1 to 5 mW that normally would not produce a hazard if viewed for only momentary periods with the unaided eye. They pose severe eye hazards when viewed through optical instruments (e.g., microscopes, binoculars, or other collecting optics). Class IIIa lasers must be labeled for caution of users and avoiding them from staring into the beam or directing the beam toward the eye of individuals. Some visible continuous wave Helium-Neon lasers and some solid state laser pointers are examples of Class IIIa lasers.
     
    CLASS IIIb LASERS are systems with power levels of 5 mW to 500 mW (CW) and some pulsed lasers. These lasers will produce an eye hazard if viewed directly. This includes specular reflections. Administrative, Engineering, and PPE control measures are required and especially laser safety glasses!
     
    CLASS IV LASERS are systems with power levels greater than 500 mW and many pulsed lasers. These lasers will produce eye, skin and fire hazards. This includes specular or diffuse reflections. Administrative, Engineering and PPE control measures are required as well as laser safety glasses!!