The need for the Laser Protection Adviser
All laser users (including Employers and Employees) have a responsibility for maintaining a safe place of work, and for ensuring that their work activities do not present unacceptable levels of risk to themselves or to others.
In any place of work in which lasers are in use, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the risks to health arising from the use and reasonably foreseeable misuse of laser equipment are properly assessed. The employer must take all necessary steps to ensure that these risks are either eliminated or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduced to an acceptably low level.
Wherever potentially hazardous lasers are in use, the employer needs to establish a general policy for the safe management of these hazards, although specific safety tasks may be delegated to others. This policy, which should be an integral part of the organisation's overall safety policy, should require that all reasonably foreseeable hazards arising from laser use are identified and that a risk assessment is carried out. Significant findings of this assessment should be documented and appropriate protective measures implemented wherever necessary to reduce these risks. The effectiveness of such protective measures should be reviewed regularly.
The laser safety standard also requires that, where lasers in Class 3B or Class 4 are in use, a Laser Safety Officer (often called a Laser Protection Supervisor in healthcare environments) should be appointed to take day-to-day responsibility, on behalf of the employer, for maintaining safe laser use. Quite often, however, especially when undertaking the initial risk assessment, in determining the safety controls and procedures that are necessary, and in providing safety training to staff, additional and specialised expertise will be needed. It is the role of the Laser Protection Adviser to provide this expertise.
The Laser Protection Adviser is someone having sufficient skill in, and knowledge and experience of, relevant matters of laser safety, and able to provide appropriate professional assistance in determining hazards, in assessing risks, and in proposing any necessary protective controls and procedures. Many Laser Protection Advisers also provide training in laser safety.
The Laser Protection Adviser need not be an employee of the organisation concerned, but may instead be an external adviser.
The Members of the Association of Laser Safety Professionals are highly-qualified specialists, and have all been awarded certification as Laser Protection Advisers, assessed and accredited by the Association. They provide a high quality of service and advice, helping to ensure that best practices in laser safety are established and maintained.
Outside of the healthcare sector, where additional requirements apply (see below), the safe use of lasers is governed by general health & safety legislation, requiring that user organisations seek the advice of an appropriate “competent person” whenever necessary to enable the organisation to meet its legal obligations for establishing a safe workplace. In laser safety, the certificated Laser Protection Adviser is able to fulfill the role of a “competent person”.
In addition to providing advice to users, several of the Association’s Members also work closely with manufacturers of laser equipment, advising on issues related to laser hazards, product classification and product compliance.
Certificated Laser Protection Adviser in the Medical and Aesthetic Sectors
For the healthcare sector i.e. in this context where laser or intense pulsed light treatments are being provided by healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors and nurses) to "treat disease, disorder or injury", registration with the Care Quality Commission is required for establishments based in England. For the non-healthcare sector (e.g. beauty salons), the Local Authorities are responsible for applying the applicable regulation and the requirements currently vary by geographical area.
Alternative schemes operate in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and also in the Republic of Ireland
In all cases, ALSP recommends the appointment of a suitably qualified LPA to advise on compliance with applicable general health and safety legislation and local registration requirements.
Contact the Association for more details