The seen and unseen dangers of laser use

05 April 2024

Warning about dangers of improper use of high-power lasers

SafeWork SA has identified a growing concern regarding the unsafe use of Class 3B and 4 lasers in entertainment venues, particularly in laser light shows.

Lasers can add visual appeal to events but they can also pose potential risks to the health and safety of staff, performers and audiences if they are not used and managed properly.

Class 3B and 4 lasers are classified based on their potential to cause harm to eyes and skin burns, with Class 4 lasers being fire hazards if they are not properly controlled and positioned.

Emissions from lasers may be visible and non-visible light and are commonly used at concerts, festivals, and events for light shows, projections, and special effects.

Regulation 223 (5) of the Work Health & Safety Regulations (2012)  states the person with management or control must ensure workers operating laser equipment are trained in the proper use of the equipment.

Safety solutions

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must identify and assess all risks associated with the use of high-power lasers and ensure that lasers are not directed:

  • In a manner that the laser beam could interact with a person
  • Towards a surface that the beam could reflect off
  • Towards a surface or substance that has the potential to ignite

All lasers require correct labelling to warn of the hazards involved with the radiation source as per Australian requirements.

If a business identifies that they have Class 3B or 4 lasers, they should consider if that category of laser is appropriate for the location and activity undertaken.   A lower class of laser can produce a similar effect without the associated risk.

Further information

AS/NZS IEC 60825.3:2022 Safety of laser products, Part 3: Guidance for laser displays and shows | Standards Australia Store