Laser Pointer Safety Guidance

Laser Pointers are widely and cheaply available, but care needs to be taken to ensure that pointers used, both within and outside the College, are safe. The following information is also available to download Laser pointer safety guidance.

How are laser pointers used and managed within the College?

An image containing a laser pointerWhile laser pointers are used widely within the College as presentational tools, they have also been observed in use as cheap light sources in a number of research areas.

Laser pointers used within the College for presentational purposes should be Class 1 or Class 2, as defined by the British Standard for Laser Safety (BSEN 60825-1). Some laser pointers are manufactured as Class 3R products with power output up to 5 milliwatts and the use of these products for presentational purposes is discouraged.  Generic guidance is available for the use of Class 3R lasers in research areas. The use Class 3B and 4 lasers in all applications within the College is subject to the mandatory controls defined within the College Laser Safety Code of Practice.

Why are some laser pointers dangerous?

An image containing a laser going into someones eyeLaser pointers available from cheap online retailers should be avoided. These pointers may have excessive and hazardous power output with the potential cause permanent eye damage and blindness.

Non-Compliant laser pointers may be electrically unsafe and have unstable power output which may vary with ambient temperature. For these reasons, the use of such equipment in research applications has the potential to jeopardise work as well as present a fire or health and safety risk.


How do I know if my laser pointer is dangerous?

Non-compliant laser pointers will often be of poor construction.

Labels may be absent, illegible or missing important information such as laser power or class.

Non-compliant lasers may have unexpectedly short battery life as a result of their excessive power consumption. Similarly, equipmet supplied with battery chargers should be considred suspect.

Where can I purchase safe laser pointers?

An image containing a danger warning sticker on a laser pointerUsers should purchase laser pointers only from reputable UK suppliers and these should be either Class 1 or Class 2 products. 

Pointers should be marked clearly with the laser Class assigned to them under the British Standard. Users should review laser pointers currently in use to confirm that they are Class 1 or 2 and are marked accordingly.



What should I do with suspect laser pointers?

An image of a bin crossed out to demonstrate that a pointer laser should be disposed as waste electrical equipment

Suspect equipment should not be used and should be disposed of as waste electrical equipment.




Where can I get further advice?

Any concerns regarding the safety of current or future laser pointer usage should be discussed with your Safety Officer or Departmental Laser Safety Officer (DLSO), where one is appointed.

In the absence of an appointed DLSO, contact should be made with the College Laser Protection Adviser who can provide advice and support including laser power measurements, where necessary.

August 2020

Laser pointer safety