The University aims to protect the eyes and skin of all persons that could potentially be exposed to hazardous sources of artificial optical radiation. It will achieve this by applying appropriate protective measures to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable.
The following guidance applies to university activities that use or produce artificial optical radiation. It excludes exposure to natural sunlight.
What is Artificial Optical Radiation (AOR)?
Optical radiation is another term for light, covering ultraviolet (UV) radiation, visible light, and infrared radiation including lasers. Artificial refers to man-made and therefore excludes natural sunlight. Optical radiation is a form of non-ionising radiation.
Non-Ionising radiation is any type of electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy to ionise atoms or molecules (convert them to ions).
Process for working safely with forms of AOR:
1) Identify sources of AOR within areas of responsibility.
2) Determine whether the sources of AOR are hazardous and could result in harm to persons affected. Consult:
HSE Tables in guidance document
Relevant British Standards, e.g. BS EN 62471: 2008 (lamps) or BS EN 60825-1: 2007 (lasers)
3) Ensure adequate control measures are in place to manage the risk to non-ionising radiation to as low as reasonably practicable. Record these findings in a risk assessment. Typical control measures include:
Use an alternative, safer light source that can achieve the same result.
Use filters, screens, remote viewing, curtains, safety interlocks, clamping of work pieces, dedicated rooms, remote controls and time delays.
Train workers in best-practice and give them appropriate information.
Organise the work to reduce exposure to workers and restrict access to hazardous areas.
Issue Personal Protective Equipment, e.g. clothing, goggles or face shields.
Use relevant safety signs.
4) Ensure the following specific conditions are taken into account in the risk assessment:
Persons whose health is at particular risk, (e.g. those with pre-existing medical conditions made worse by light).
Persons using any chemicals, (e.g. skin creams) which could react with light to make any health effects worse.
Persons who are exposed to multiple sources of light at the same time.
If exposure to bright light could present unrelated risks, (e.g. temporary blindness could lead to mistakes being made in hazardous tasks).
5) Put in place procedures to deal with potential over exposures, e.g. referral to a medical professional.
6) Use any protective equipment provided to prevent/minimise exposure to artificial optical radiation in the workplace when required and in accordance with instruction.
The University's arrangements (including the roles and responsibilities for those responsible for managing or undertaking work with AOR are set out in the University's AOR Safety Standard.
The AOR Safety Standard (and accompanying guidance) is due for review June 2023.