Protecting your eyes or skin from lasers is accomplished by three categories of laser safety controls: engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Below each category of control is discussed briefly. This article is merely an aid to demonstrate that laser safety glasses/other PPE is only part of the equation. Engineering and administrative controls are an integral part of proper laser safety; we simply list a few examples in each bucket to demonstrate the nature of the category.
Always enclose laser equipment or beam path when possible. Laser safety glasses and goggles are always to be used with Class 3B or Class 4 laser systems. Laser safety eyewear can have major limitations for high-powered class 4 laser systems and may not reduce or eliminate hazard caused by incident laser radiation.
Engineering Laser Safety Controls
Engineering Controls - The most important control when dealing with lasers. A few examples (but certainly not an exhaustive list) are enclosing the laser and its beam path when possible; controlling the entryway and access to where the laser is housed; utilizing laser windows and screens when appropriate.
Administrative Laser Safety Controls
Administrative Controls – Examples of this class of controls include appropriate training for personnel; having standard operating procedures; having alignment procedures.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Although important, PPE is used to provide laser safety protection when other controls are not practical. Laser safety glasses and goggles are always to be used with Class 3B or Class 4 laser systems.