Outcomes from the ARPANSA source inspection program: Laser apparatus

Advisory note

Beaming laser apparatus

Summary

  • Between April 2015 and late 2017 ARPANSA undertook 56 inspections of laser apparatus resulting in three non-compliances and 46 areas for improvement.
  • The largest area for improvement (56%) related to inconsistencies or deficiencies in documentation, particularly plans and arrangements.  Improvements to signage and labelling, work instructions and work standards made up a further 22%. 
  • Licence holders using lasers must comply with these Australian standards:
    • AS/NZS 2243.5 Safety in laboratories Part 5: Non-ionizing radiations-Electromagnetic, sound and ultrasound
    • AS 1319 Safety signs for the occupational environment
    • AS/NZS IEC 60825.1 Safety of laser products Part 1: Equipment classification and requirements
    • AS/NZS IEC 60825.14 Safety of laser products Part 14: A user’s guide, which specify administrative policies and control measures
  • Inspections are generally based on regulatory priority (RP) where RP1 is the highest priority and RP6 the lowest. Laser products Class 3B, Class 4 with accessible emission limit <50W, and optical fibre communication systems (OFCS) are considered RP5. For certain low hazard sources (RP5 or RP6) ARPANSA may adopt a simplified approach to regulatory oversight that may not require physical or e-inspection. For more detail about RP see section 1.7 of the PDF icon Inspection Manual .  

Areas for improvement

Pie chart showing areas for improvement for lasr apparatus

Figures relate to findings from inspections of lasers between April 2015 and late 2017

Plans and arrangements for managing safety

Licence holders are required to comply with subsection 60(2) and section 61 of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Regulations 2018 (the Regulations). These require the licence holder to develop and implement plans and arrangements to manage radiation safety within the organisation.

The complexity of plans and arrangements should be proportional to the hazard of the specific operations, conduct or dealing. ARPANSA’s Regulatory Guide PDF icon Regulatory Guide - Plans & arrangements for managing safety sets out eight key areas that a licence holder’s plan and arrangements should include. Plans and arrangements must be reviewed at least once every three years.

Australian Standards

AS/NZS IEC 60825.1, AS/NZS IEC 60825.14 and AS/NZS IEC 60825.2 have been reproduced from the equivalent International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. The objective of these standards is to protect people from non-ionising radiation (NIR) by reducing the likelihood of injury through protective measures by providing information so that proper precautions can be adopted and to ensure that adequate warning labels are provided for the hazards associated with laser radiation.

Signage

Signage for laboratories must comply with the requirements in AS/NZS 2243.5 (NIR laboratory standard). For example, unambiguous warning signs need to be displayed at the entrance or adjacent to the source of any controlled non-ionising radiation apparatus. Australian Standard AS1319 sets out the requirements for the design of safety signs intended for use in the occupational environment to warn of hazards and control safety behaviour.

Licence holders dealing with laser apparatus are required to comply with the laser standards and the NIR laboratory standard as a condition of licence.

Training

The NIR laboratory standard requires that any person working with hazardous NIR sources be appropriately trained in accordance with the nature of the hazard. This requirement is also a condition of licence.

References

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Regulations 2018

AS/NZS IEC 60825.1 Safety of laser products Part 1: Equipment classification and requirements

AS/NZS IEC 60825.14 Safety of laser products Part 14: A user’s guide

AS/NZS IEC 60825.2 Safety of laser products Part 2: Safety of optical fibre communication systems (OFCS)

AS/NZS 2243.5:2004 Safety in laboratories Part 5: Non-ionizing radiations-Electromagnetic, sound and ultrasound

AS 1319:1994 Safety signs for the occupational environment

ARPANSA Regulatory Guide Plans & arrangement for managing safety, September 2017