Now Available! ANSI Z136.8 – Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing (Press Release)

ORLANDO, FL, May 15, 2012 – The newest in the series of Z136 standards, ANSI Z136.8, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing, has arrived in response to the requirements of yet another rapidly growing area of laser use.

In what will be Laser Institute of America’s latest offering in a range of vital resources for laser personnel, the ANSI Z136.8 standard arose from the increasing reliance on lasers in labs and other research-designated areas.

“Laser applications in the research setting have been on a steadily increasing pace, in particular with the development of pico- and femtosecond lasers as well as nano laser technology,” explains Ken Barat, chairman of the subcommittee responsible for developing the new standard. “The existing Z136.1 Safe Use of Lasers standard was becoming out of sync with these new laser applications in R&D.”

Highlights of the standard include guidance on a number of topics vital to R&D and testing users says Barat, who is the Laser Safety Officer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. These include the use of alignment eyewear, use of non-certified lasers, export controls, use of warning signs, inclusion of sample audit forms for labs and program reviews and deletion of some CDRH-based control measures.

“Several engineering controls treated all lasers as if they were commercial products; many homemade, fiber and diode systems no longer neatly fit into that mold,” Barat says. “It also seemed that the development of several application standards would allow for greater safety.”

The lineage of new Z136 standards can be traced back to the annual meeting of the Accredited Standards Committee Z136 on March 6, 2005, according to Barbara Sams, Director of Standards Development at LIA and Executive Director of the Board of Laser Safety. At that session, veteran LIA safety expert Dr. David Sliney proposed the development of new standards for applications that hadn’t been well addressed. Efforts resulting from that session have spun off several new standards.

In the case of the Z136.8 standard, it was crafted to distinguish it from the parent ANSI Z136.1 document by detailing different laser-use locations, as well as noting two additional hazard analysis areas — beam path and beam interaction.

In terms of laser locations, the new standard identifies:

  • Unrestricted locations: An area where access is not limited. Example: A hallway in a building containing Class 3B or 4 lasers.
  • Restricted locations: An area where access is granted for authorized people and limited for the general public through administrative and engineering control measures. Example: A research laboratory containing Class 3B and/or 4 lasers.
  • Controlled locations: An area where the access, occupancy and activities of people within are subject to strict control and supervision. By inference, these are restricted areas with optical radiation hazards at Class 4 with additional control measures specified by the laser operator, the LSO, and the employer management. Example: An R&D area with positive access control and video surveillance.
  • Exclusion locations: An area where occupancy by people is possible but is denied by the LSO during operation of the laser system. Example: A free electron laser machine room or beam path.
  • Inaccessible locations: An area where occupancy is not possible due to its dimensions. Example: An enclosed beam path on an optical table.

“Laser safety in all research settings I know are an effort between the LSO and researcher,” Barat concludes. “But research settings are more fluid. In industry, once the controls are in place, things are pretty much set for long periods of use. In medical settings, people work off a checklist for each procedure, and the doctor and nurses argue over eyewear use. In R&D a set up can stay the same with just different samples for years or change every few weeks following the path of the results or funding.”

LIA, the recognized industry leader in laser advocacy and safety education since 1968, serves as secretariat of the Z136 series of laser safety standards, administering the process and providing support to the committee. To order the Z136.8 revision ($140 for LIA members, $160 for nonmembers), visit or call LIA at 1.800.34.LASER.


About LIA
Laser Institute of America (LIA) is the professional society for laser applications and safety serving the industrial, educational, medical, research and government communities throughout the world since 1968. , 13501 Ingenuity Drive, Ste 128, Orlando, FL 32826, +1.407.380.1553.


About the Author
Steven Glover is a proud member of the LIA staff. When he is not at work he is actively involved in several charitable efforts.
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