Experience with laser safety in the USA-a review

David H. Sliney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following several research programs in the 1960's aimed at studying the adverse biological effects of lasers and other optical radiation sources, laser occupational exposure limits were set and general safety standards were developed. Today, the experience from laser accidents and the development of new lasers and new applications have altered the format of the exposure limits and the safety procedures. It is critically important to distinguish between different biological injury mechanisms. The biological effects of ultraviolet radiation upon the skin and eye are additive over a period of at least one workday, and require different safety procedures. The scattered UV irradiance from excimer lasers may be quite hazardous, depending upon wavelength and action spectra. Since laser technology is young, the exposure of an individual in natural sunlight must be studied to evaluate the potential for chronic effects. The safety measures necessary in the use of lasers depend upon a hazard evaluation. The appropriate control measures and alternate means of enclosure, baffling, and operational control measures are presented. Present laser safety standards are explained briefly. Eye protective techniques and eyewear are considered for a variety of sources. The optical properties of enclosure materials are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalLasers in Medical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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