Wondering if you need laser safety glasses?
When Do You Need Laser Safety Glasses?
You need laser safety glasses in any situation where it is possible that your eyes could be exposed to direct, reflected, or scattered laser radiation. In other words, if there’s even a remote chance that your eyes could be exposed to even a scattered reflection of the beam, you need to be wearing laser safety glasses.
In case you don’t know, let’s define the three types of laser radiation. Direct laser radiation is contact with a beam coming directly from the laser. This is getting hit with a direct beam, and it’s not good when it happens by accident. Reflected or indirect laser radiation is from a reflected beam. This reflected beam usually only carries a fraction of the strength of the direct beam, but it’s often still powerful enough to do serious, even life-changing, damage to your eyes. Scattered laser radiation is similar to reflected laser radiation, except that it comes from a diffuse surface instead of a reflected one. Think of it this way: if you go into a dark room and shine a flashlight at the ceiling, the scattered light coming back from the ceiling will light up the room. The ceiling is scattering the light, which is basically another type of reflection. Some lasers are capable of causing permanent eye damage or blindness even with scattered radiation! Imagine if that beam hit you directly!
When do you need to wear safety glasses, and why?
- Many lasers are capable of causing damage to the human eye, even with scattered or reflected radiation. You need to wear laser safety glasses when there’s any chance that you could be exposed to any laser radiation of any kind.
- Laser glasses should be worn at all times in the area of a laser that is connected to a power source, even if it’s not on. You never know what could happen, and it only takes a few nanoseconds of exposure from some lasers to cause blindness.
- Because many lasers are capable of causing eye damage even with scattered radiation, it is important to always wear laser safety glasses in an area where there is a label stating that laser glasses are required.
- Aside from the dangers associated with failing to wear appropriate laser glasses in a laser safety area, you can get in serious trouble with your facility or OSHA for lacking appropriate personal protective equipment.
- To save yourself a headache (literally), get yourself a pair of laser safety glasses that are comfortable and fit well. You’ll be happy when you’re wearing them for hours in a laser safety area without discomfort.
If your facility does not make it clear when to wear laser safety glasses, it’s time to talk to someone involved with safety to tell them that you have a potential for disaster.