The term “LASER” is an acronym representing Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The properties of this non-ionizing radiation allow for a range of applications and as such their use is widespread across Carleton University campus.  However, lasers pose significant hazards including eye injury, burns, fire and exposure to hazardous fumes and therefore control measures must be in place in order to mitigate these associated risks.

Laser Classification Characteristics Hazards Examples
1 & 1M Low power and or higher powered fully enclosed beam Incapable of causing injury during normal operation CD and DVD players, laser printers and confocal microscopes
2 & 2M Low power; Visible (400-700nm); CW power <1mW Possible hazard if eye is stable and focused; low probability of injury HeNe laser with a maximum power <1mW
3R Visible or invisible; CW power <5mW Possible hazard if eye is stable and focused; low probability of injury Visible CW HeNe lasers with a maximum power >1mW and <5
3B Visible or invisible; CW power  <500mW Exposure to direct beam and specular reflections are potential eye hazards Visible CW HeNe lasers with a maximum power >5mW and <500mW
4 Visible or invisible, CW power >500mW, fire hazard if >10W, laser generated air contaminants Exposure to direct beam, specular and diffuse reflections are potential eye and skin hazards CO2 laser with maximum power >500mW

The Carleton Laser Safety Program has been implemented in order to;

  • prevent personal injury resulting from the exposure to laser radiation through the implementation of safe work practices, proper signage and training;
  • conform to the requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers (ANSI Z136.1), the American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing (ANSI Z136.8 – 2012), and related regulations and standards.

The Laser Safety Program applies to all employees and students of Carleton University, as well as to all building occupants and visitors who could potentially be exposed to laser radiation during the course of their work at the University. The program outlines registration, training and commissioning requirements.


All Class 3B and Class 4 lasers shall be registered with Environmental Health and Safety using the Laser Registration Form. Registration allows EHS to work with the owner of the laser in conducting a hazard analysis to ensure that appropriate engineering and administrative controls are in place.

It is also intended to identify persons using lasers so that they can receive appropriate training. Finally, it is meant to enable the lasers and laser systems to be inspected on a regular basis for compliance with the Laser Safety Program.


All faculty, staff and students who work with lasers must receive training prior to working with laser equipment and systems. The EHS Laser Safety Training course is mandatory for all persons who intend to work with lasers.

While the Laser Safety Training covers the basics of laser safety, a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) must be written for each laser and made available to all workers in the space. This SOP must address specific safety considerations during beam alignment, normal laser operation, servicing, as well as all non-beam hazards that the laser presents. A Template is provided as a starting point for developing your SOP.

Laser Controlled Areas Inspection Checklist