Keep an eye on laser safety

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Are you taking any necessary safety precautions when using laser tools? A new article from Wired.com has highlighted the potential dangers of using this now widely-available technology without sufficient consideration for your eyesight.

The article refers to a new study from the American National Institute of Standards and Technology which reports that some cheap laser pointers can emit more than 10 times as much invisible infrared light as bright green light, putting users at risk of serious eye problems. You can read the full article here.

While the product is different from the kinds of lasers and levels commonly used in DIY applications it does raise some important points about safety and the need to minimise risks. Lasers should never be shone into the eyes as there is a real risk of retinal damage. And that can sometimes go for reflections of a beam too so beware of those.

The crucial thing is to make sure that you understand all the safety issues involved before you set out on your project. You should then think about ways of mitigating or preventing any problems that might arise.

If you are using laser tools then you should wear any necessary protective eyewear as recommended. If you don’t have that eyewear, don’t use the item until you do. As always, refer to the manufacturers’ instructions, and follow them to the letter. Because you weren’t born with a spare set of eyeballs and the ones you do have aren’t too easy to fix.

Always use a good-quality tool designed for the task instead of trying to improvise a cheap substitute. Do not use laser tools in ways the manufacturer did not envisage. And avoid using a laser at eye level if at all practicable.

Of course, you should never under any circumstances point a laser tool at someone else, look into the beam or let children and pets loose around laser tools.

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