Non-Ionizing Radiation Safety


January 30, 2003

Revision Date

October 11, 2005


R 20.05

Revision No.



The use of non-ionizing radiation (NIR) occurs in a number of research, teaching, learning and work activities at Simon Fraser University. There are risks associated with exposure to NIR and the University is committed to minimizing these risks and providing a safe research, teaching, learning and work environment. The purpose of this document is to establish terms of reference for the installation, operation and maintenance of equipment emitting NIR. It is designed to:


    a) protect University personnel and the general public from hazards associated with the use of equipment emitting NIR within the University context

    b) comply with the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) requirements and regulations, and other standards and safety codes that apply to the use of NIR;

    c) indicate the units within the University having the responsibility ensuring that these goals are achieved.


Non-ionizing radiation(NIR) is defined as any form of electromagnetic radiation not covered by Policy R20.04 - Radiological Safety; for practical purposes this comprises the electromagnetic radiation spectrum from radio frequencies through microwaves to visible and ultra-violet light.

University is defined as locations on or away from the campuses of Simon Fraser University where personnel associated with Simon Fraser University use NIR for teaching, research or other activities related to their association with Simon Fraser University.

Supervisor is defined as the person responsible for a project using equipment emitting non-ionizing radiation.

User is defined as a person who works with equipment emitting NIR and reports to a supervisor.


This Policy applies to all personnel at Simon Fraser University who work with equipment emitting NIR, including but not limited to faculty members, students, research associates, and staff members, and to personnel and to the general public who may be exposed to NIR resulting from this equipment. The scope of this Policy does not include radiation from the sun and does not apply to exposure to NIR from consumer products used outside the requirements of the workplace and beyond the control of the University.


The recognized and documented hazards associated with exposure to NIR vary enormously depending on the type of NIR, from insignificant hazard (low power, low frequency radio waves) to extreme hazards (high power lasers). This Policy applies to the full range and the term "NIR safety" will be used throughout to cover safety issues. NIR safety is the responsibility of the University Radiation Safety Committee (URSC) and the NIR Safety Officer (NRSO).


The URSC is responsible for the overall supervision, review and audit of the NIR safety program at Simon Fraser University. The NRSO operates under authority delegated by the URSC and is responsible for the day-to-day administration of NIR safety.

The URSC and the NRSO develop and implement an NIR safety program at Simon Fraser University. The purpose of the program is to monitor both teaching and research facility design, procedures and equipment, and to implement and enforce the policies, regulations and procedures for the control and safe use of all lasers. The details of this program that are specific to lasers are described in the SFU Laser Safety Manual
The Laser Safety Manual is a PDF document. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, click here.

4.1.1 University Radiation Safety Committee (URSC)

The responsibility to implement and enforce the NIR safety program rests with the University Radiation Safety Committee. The URSC derives its authority from the Simon Fraser University Board of Governors, through the Office of the Vice-President, Research. Policy - R20.04 Radiological Safety - specifies the composition of the URSC. In the context of NIR safety, there will be one member representing NIR users and the NRSO, who will sit as an ex officio non-voting member of the URSC (see below for details of the appointment of the NRSO).

With respect to NIR safety, the URSC has a mandate to:

a) Supervise the development of a NIR safety program and to ensure that the installation, operation and maintenance of NIR sources are performed accordingly, regardless of the source of authorization at the University;
b) Review annually, the NIR safety program to determine if all activities meet the conditions of the WCB and other recommended safety codes and regulations;
c) Receive reports from the NRSO and recommend remedial action to correct any deficiencies;
d) Review actions taken by the NRSO for non-compliance with regulations and procedures;
e) In general, act as the internal auditor of the functioning of the NIR safety program at Simon Fraser University;
f) Ensure that changes to the SFU NIR Safety Manual are consistent with this Policy, and monitor the implementation of these changes;
g) Recommend changes to this Policy to the Vice President, Research.

4.1.2 NIR Safety Officer (NRSO) Appointment

An individual shall be designated the NIR Safety Officer (NRSO) with the authority and responsibility to monitor and enforce the control of NIR hazards. The NRSO shall have working knowledge of NIR including laser systems.
The NRSO is appointed by the Vice-President, Research upon the recommendation of the URSC. The NRSO reports to the Director of Radiation Safety (DRS). The NRSO sits as an ex officio, non-voting member of the URSC. Depending on the extent and number of NIR installations, the NRSO may be a full-time or part-time employee or the NRSO functions may be assigned as part of the responsibilities of a full-time employee. The NRSO shall not be a person whose activities are subject to the approval of the URSC or NRSO. Role and Responsibilities

The NRSO represents the executive body of the URSC and is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the NIR safety regulations and procedures. In particular, the NRSO has the responsibility to:

a) Advise the URSC on matters regarding NIR safety;
b) Advise the Vice-President, Research on matters related to NIR hazards and NIR safety, including the resources necessary to set up and maintain an adequate NIR safety program;
c) Be available for consultation on problems dealing with NIR sources and potential hazards of such equipment.
d) Develop, update, recommend and implement policies and procedures for the safe use of lasers and other NIR-emitting equipment in accordance with the current WCB guidelines and those of other pertinent regulatory agencies and safety codes;
e) Maintain an inventory of laser and other NIR-emitting equipment at SFU;
f) Classify or verify the classifications of lasers and laser systems used at SFU;
g) Review and approve specific operating procedures for each application for use of lasers; these shall be consistent with the requirements of SFU NIR safety policies and procedures;
h) Evaluate potential hazards of laser work areas, including the establishment of Nominal Hazard Zones (NHZ);
i) Ensure that prescribed control measures are in effect and recommend alternatives where necessary; perform periodic audits of the functionality of these control measures;
j) Approve laser installation facilities and laser equipment prior to use; approve modification of existing facilities and equipment;
k) Approve standard operating procedures, laser alignment procedures, and other procedures that may be necessary for administrative and procedural control measures;
l) Approve area warning signs and equipment labels;
m) Ensure that education and training is provided in accordance with ANSI standards;
n) Determine personnel categories for medical surveillance in accordance with ANSI standards;
o) Ensure that the appropriate records are maintained regarding training and medical examinations where applicable;
p) Investigate accidents and incidents and initiate appropriate action;
q) Review at least annually the SFU Laser Safety Manual and revise it as needed;
r) Prepare and submit an annual report of his/her activity to the URSC;
s) Sit as an ex officio, non-voting member of the University Radiation Safety Committee. Resources

The Vice-President, Research shall ensure that the NRSO receives appropriate training and resources to conduct the NIR safety program, either directly or through arrangement with relevant Departments.

4.1.3 Responsibilities of Supervisors

The supervisor is an employee of the University with proven training and/or experience acceptable to the URSC in the safe handling of NIR sources. The responsibilities of the supervisor are to:

a) Notify the NRSO that he/she possesses a NIR source;
b) Notify the NRSO about any changes to the status of his/her NIR equipment that may affect the safety of its operation;
c) Develop operating procedures specific to the NIR equipment under his/her control that are acceptable to the NRSO;
d) Ensure that safe laboratory practices are followed in compliance with the SFU NIR safety policies and procedures and the specific operating procedures;
e) Ensure that all personnel (Users) under his/her supervision are properly trained to work safely near, and/or operate safely, NIR sources and associated equipment.

4.1.4 Responsibilities of Users

The individuals who have been trained to operate an NIR source must:

a) Be familiar with the SFU NIR safety policies and procedures;
b) Follow specific operating procedures;
c) Report promptly to the Supervisor and the NRSO any unsafe incidents or accidents involving the use of NIR sources;
d) Bring to the attention of the Supervisor any defect or potentially unsafe situation in the operation of NIR sources or related equipment.



Questions of interpretation or application of this Policy or its procedures shall be referred to the President, whose decision shall be final.