The American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers (ANSI Z136.1–2007) provides guidance for the safe use of lasers and laser systems that operate at wavelengths between 0.18 μm and 1 mm. Its objective is to ensure that this guidance is reasonable and adequate by classifying lasers according to their relative hazards, and then specifying appropriate control measures for each hazard classification. Hazard classification is based on the ability of the laser beam to cause biological damage to the eye or skin during use.
Detailed technical information related to the measurements and calculations used to determine equipment hazard classification and the biological effects of laser use are included in the ANSI Standard and its appendices and are not reproduced in this Guide due to copyright restrictions. The rulebooks do provide cross-references to this detailed information as it appears in the ANSI Z136.1–2007 Standard. When preparing this Guide, the authors have assumed that once a laser or laser system is classified into the appropriate hazard category, the operator does not need to complete any further measurements or calculations related to hazard classification in order to meet the provisions of this ANSI Standard.
ANSI Standards differentiate between requirements and recommendations in two ways. First, various sections of the Standard are designated as normative, meaning that they are considered integral parts of the standard. The second designation is non-normative, which refers to requirements that are provided for information purposes only. Non-normative sections include such things as forewords and certain appendices. In addition, the guidelines use the term "shall" for requirements and "should" for recommendations. The terms "shall" and "should" are used in the same manner in this Guide.
The OSHA standard under 29 CFR 1926.54 for non-ionizing radiation applies to lasers used in construction operations and in the power generation, transmission, and distribution installations of electric utilities, as well as equivalent installations of industrial establishments. In general, the ANSI Z136.1–2007 standard is much more detailed than the OSHA standard, and compliance with the ANSI guidelines will also ensure compliance with OSHA requirements. However, employers who use lasers in these facility-types should also refer to 29 CFR 1926.54.
ANSI Standard 136.1: Audit Guide for Safe Use of Lasers is complemented by OSHA Auditing: Federal Compliance Guide-Construction: The Complete Safety and Health Audit Checklist.
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