Laser safety

The SFU Laser Safety Program ensures the safe and effective control of laser hazards and applies to all departments, faculty, staff, students, volunteers and visitors working with laser generating equipment, Class 3B and Class 4 lasers, and laser systems. The program is administered by the University Radiation Safety Committee (URSC) and the Laser Safety Officer (LSO).

Compliance & oversight


The Principal Investigator is responsible for notifying the Laser Safety Officer (LSO) of the lasers or laser systems under his/her control, and for ensuring that the proper laser signage is in place.

The LSO is to be informed of any modification to laser equipment or to the arrangement in the laboratory which may affect safety and the corresponding signage.

Regulations and guidelines

Users of lasers and lasers systems have a responsibility to protect themselves and others from the hazards arising from their use of these devices. The SFU Laser Safety Program, Radiation Safety Policy R20.04 and the Laser Safety Manual have been developed to enable students, staff and faculty to safely work with lasers by: 

  • identifying potential hazards associated with lasers, laser systems, and laser operations;
  • prescribing a suitable means of evaluating and controlling these hazards;
  • outlining the procedures, responsibilities and expectations that need to be met in accordance with all relevant acts, regulations and standards;

Use of lasers must also be in compliance with WorkSafeBC's Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, the American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers (ANSI Z136.1), and all related regulations and standards. The ANSI Z136.1 standards are the foundation of evaluating laser-related occupational safety.

SFU Laser Safety Program

The additional elements of the Laser Safety Program include:

  • Training - All SFU personnel must obtain training from the laser supervisor in the safe operation of the specific laser system that he/she will operate. This includes potential hazards and associated control measures, and must be provided prior to working with Class 3B and Class 4 lasers and laser systems.
  • New lasers - EHS must be notified of any new laser purchases or installations prior to their operation.
  • Surveillance program - All laser personnel who work with Class 3B or Class 4 lasers/laser systems are required to participate in the medial surveillance program.
  • Permission for visits - All SFU 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 and must be escorted.
  • Reporting - All accidents, incidents (near accidents) and operating irregularities involving lasers must be reported to EHS for investigation, analysis and remedial action.

University Radiation Safety Committee

The authority to implement and enforce the non-ionizing radiation safety program rests with the University Radiation Safety Committee (URSC). The Committee derives its authority from the Board of Governors, through the office of the Vice-President, Research and International. The role of the URSC and its mandate with respect to non-ionizing radiation is outlined in Radiation Safety Policy R20.04.


Periodic inspections and re-inspections by the LSO and/or their designate(s) are required for all laboratories at SFU working with Class 3B and Class 4 lasers and laser systems. These inspections serve to ensure SFU laboratories are accordance with regulations and in compliance with all applicable laser standards and guidelines.

A copy of the laser self-inspection checklist is available here.


All rooms containing a Class 3B or Class 4 laser must have the appropriate laser warning sign(s) posted at each entry way.

  • The laser sign is applicable only to lasers or optical parametric amplifiers with open beams. Devices containing Class 3B or 4 lasers imbedded in such a way that no part of the laser beam can be viewed during normal operation of the equipment are considered class 1 laser system and no special signage is required. However, during servicing of these devices the appropriate laser warning sign is required.
  • Rooms with multiple open beams require a warning sign corresponding to each category of open beam hazard present in the room.

For more information visit the signage page.