Safety & Training

Information about laser eye hazards

There are some short videos on the site of the Laser Institute of America, including a 3-minute podcast identifying laser hazards. This is a good refresher or introduction to laser safety, although no substitute for training.

How intense does a laser need to be before you need to wear safety goggles? That is determined by the Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE):


(source: Wikipedia page on laser safety) For wavelengths in the visible range (400-700nm), a blink reflex will limit exposure time to 0.25s. For other wavelengths, one should calculate the required OD for laser glasses assuming a long (10s or greater) exposure. Using this graph and exposure time guidelines, here's a table of the most common wavelengths in our lab, and the corresponding MPE:

Wavelength MPE intensity
405nm 3 mW/cm2
780nm 2 mW/cm2
1064nm 5 mW/cm2

Laser Inventory

This list identifies the lasers in use in the lab, as well as their classification (explanation).

Location Class Description (make, power, wavelength) Quantity safe OD
MP023 3B Vortex ECDL 10mW 767-780 nm 4 2
MP023 3B in-house ECDL 30mW 767 nm 2 3
MP023 3B in-house injected diodes 30-70mW 767nm-780nm 3 3
MP023 4 IPG fibre laser 10W CW1064nm 2 5
MP023 4 Toptica tapered amplifier 0.9W 775nm 1 5
MP023 4 in-house tapered amplifier 1W 767nm 2 5
MP025 3B in-house ECDL 30mW 405nm 1 2.5
MP025 3B Toptica TA100 ECDL 10mW 405nm 1 2
MP023 3B Vortex ECDL 10mW 767 nm 1 2
MP025 3B in-house ECDL 50mW 767-780 nm 2 3
MP025 3B Toptica ECDL 50mW 767nm 1 3
MP025 3B in-house injected diodes 50mW 767nm 2 3
MP025 3B in-house injected diodes 30mW-100mW 405nm 1 3
MP025 3B NP Photonics fibre laser 150mW 1053nm 1 3
MP025 3B NP Photonics fibre laser 500mW 1053nm 1 3
MP025 4 in-house tapered amplifer 1W 767nm 2 5
MP025 4 Verdi V10 pump laser 532nm 10W 1 5
MP025 4 Coherent MBR pumped Ti:Sapph 760nm 1.6W 1 4.5
MP025 4 Crystalaser Nd:YAG 500mW 1064nm 1 3.5
MP025 4 Nufern fibre amplifier 40W 1053nm 2 5.5
MP023,MP025 3B Thor fibre coupler 780nm 10mW 1 2

All lasers in the Thywissen group are CW. The safe OD in this table assumes a beam area of 4 mm2.

Decoding laser goggles

Most laser googles have two standards listed on them. The first is the American ANSI Z136.1 standard, which lists optical density. This is quite simple to interpret: the attenuation factor is 10-OD.

A more complicated standard is the European EN 207, for instance "180-315 D L7 + IR L4". The first set of numbers is the wavelength (180-315nm); the letter refers to operation mode (D=continuous wave; I=pulsed; R=giant pulsed); the last letter gives the OD, as above. The chart associated with this standard also converts the OD to the maximum laser intensity, but course grained with respect to the chart shown above on this page.

Materials and chemical hazards

Hazards for materials include flammability, injestion hazard (poison), skin irritation, and breathing hazarad. These are listed, by material, in data sheets called "MSDS"s. There is a binder of these in the lab; but you can also look them up online at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety:

MSDS online

The university of Ottawa also has a very helpful resource page.

Here are hazard descriptions of the four most commonly used chemicals in our lab. It is safe to assume that all of the below are toxic and flammable, so store properly and do not ingest. (At laboratory concentrations, yes, ethanol is harmful if ingested.)

chemical primary hazard(s) handling precautions
acetone eye irritant goggles
ethanol very flammable avoid flame & sparks
methanol toxic gloves
trichloroethylene severe irritant, inhalation hazard (carcinogen) gloves, goggles, fume hood


Required UofT Laser Safety Training

Current lab members trained on laser safety:

PERSON DATE Laser Safety Officer:
Rhys Anderson Jan 2014
Graham Edge Mar 2012 2014
Chris Luciuk Oct 2012
Haille Sharum Dec 2015
Scott Smale @TRIUMF + Jan 2014 @UofT 2015
Alan Stummer Dec 2003
Stefan Trotzky @U Mainz   
Vijin Venu Nov 2015 2016
Peihang Xu Nov 2015

How to get trained:
EHS Laser Safety Home Page

Hazardous material safety training (WHMIS):

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