Laser Safety

Objective of the Laser Safety Program

To effectively control laser hazards in accordance with the University Health and Safety Policy and the general provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Quebec.


This program applies to all Class 3b and Class 4 laser and laser systems in controlled areas (indoors) under the jurisdiction of McGill University and to all those identified as principal investigators, laser supervisors and laser workers.

McGill University Laser Safety Policy

Under its Health and Safety Policy and the general provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Quebec, McGill University is committed to taking every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of its employees and students.

The Laser Safety Policy is intended to assist the University community in the effective control of laser hazards, and covers Class III b and IV lasers only (other lower power classes, laser pointers and laser printers are not covered by this policy). For High Powered Enclosed Class I lasers, Microsoft Office document icon this protocol will apply.

The Laser Safety Policy applies to all university departments, employees, outside contractors, students, fellows, volunteers, and visiting scholars at the University or University-controlled sites.

The basic elements of the Laser Safety Policy are:

  • All McGill personnel must obtain laser safety training from EHS prior to working with Class III b and IV lasers.
  • EHS must be notified of any new laser purchases or installations prior to their operation.
  • All laser personnel and incidental personnel (as identified by the academic units) shall obtain appropriate eye examinations prior to assignment, and results of these examinations shall be kept on file to establish baseline surveillance in the event of actual or suspected eye injury. A further eye examination shall be conducted when personnel leave the university or transfer to other duties without potential laser exposure. Initial eye examinations must be completed prior to scheduling for laser safety training.
  • All lasers and laser systems (whether purchased, borrowed, fabricated or brought in for use by others) shall be operated in accordance with the requirements established by the latest American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z136.1 document, "Standards for the Safe Use of Lasers".
  • As required by the Internal Responsibility System (IRS), the Principal Investigator is ultimately responsible for the safe use of lasers and must ensure that personnel have been properly trained. The requirements for using lasers on campus are found in the Microsoft Office document icon Laser Safety Manual.
  • As required by the Laboratory Safety Responsibilities Policy, all McGill personnel not directly associated with the laser facility, guests, contractors or non-laboratory personnel visiting or wishing to enter the laser facility must first obtain permission from the Principal Investigator prior to accessing the laser facility.
  • All accidents, incidents (near accidents) and operating irregularities involving lasers must be reported to the Departmental Safety Committee and EHS for investigation, analysis and remedial action. 

Laser Safety Courses

To fulfill the requirements of the ANSI 2136.1 - American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers, the University Laboratory Safety Committee has decided that all principle investigators, laser supervisors, and workers (staff and students) must participate in the university’s laser safety program training prior to operating or working in proximity to a Class 3B or Class 4 laser/laser system.

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