The newest in the series of Z136 standards, ANSI Z136.8, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing, has arrived in response to the requirements of yet another rapidly growing area of laser use.
“Laser applications in the research setting have been on a steadily increasing pace, in particular with the development of pico- and femtosecond lasers as well as nano laser technology,” explains Ken Barat, chairman of the SSC-8 subcommittee responsible for developing the new standard. “The existing Z136.1 Safe Use of Lasers standard was becoming out of sync with these new laser applications in R&D.”
Highlights of the standard include guidance on a number of topics vital to R&D and testing users says Barat, who is the Laser Safety Officer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. These include the use of alignment eyewear, use of non-certified lasers, export controls, use of warning signs, the inclusion of sample audit forms for labs and program reviews, and deletion of some CDRH-based control measures.
“Several engineering controls treated all lasers as if they were commercial products; many homemade, fiber and diode systems no longer neatly fit into that mold,” Barat says. “It also seemed that the development of several application standards would allow for greater safety.”
The lineage of new Z136 standards can be traced back to the annual meeting of the Accredited Standards Committee Z136 on March 6, 2005, according to Barbara Sams, Director of Standards Development at LIA and Executive Director of the Board of Laser Safety. At that session, veteran LIA safety expert Dr. David Sliney proposed the development of new standards for applications that hadn’t been well addressed. Efforts resulting from that session have spun off several new standards.
In the case of the Z136.8 standard, it was crafted to distinguish it from the parent ANSI Z136.1 document by detailing different laser-use locations, as well as noting two additional hazard analysis areas — beam path and beam interaction.