Laser Safety Program


Work with lasers can be hazardous if proper precautions are not taken.  The Safety Office has created this Laser Safety Program to outline the responsibilities of those intending to work with lasers; and the procedures and controls that must be implemented prior to beginning work with a laser.

Implementation of the UW Laser Safety Program will ensure risk to those working with or near lasers is minimized, and conformance to the requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Labour, ANSI Z136.1- 2007 and other related regulations and standards.


University of Waterloo (UW)'s Laser Safety Program encompasses all work with class 3B and class 4 lasers under UWaterloo control. This program reflects the requirements in American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers ANSI Z136.1-2007


The Laser Safety Program applies to all persons: employees, students and visitors operating or working in proximity to class 3b or class 4 lasers. Persons included under this program are identified as laser workers. All components of the program are to be completed before a laser worker starts work.

Program Overview

The Laser Safety Program is a permit based program.  This means prior to working with a Class 3b or 4 laser a laser permit is required.  Work with lasers other than these classes is not controlled or permitted.

The steps required to obtain a permit are listed below:

  1. Apply for a laser permit online - the permit application is automatically sent to the Safety Office.  The Laser Safety Officer (LSO) will contact you to discuss the specifications of the laser(s) you wish to use.
  2. Add the laser to your permit
  3. Add Laser Workers to your permit - Laser workers must complete online training, a baseline eye exam, and be trained by their supervisor on the SOPs developed for the laser before they can be added to the permit.  Laser workers who are not on a permit are not permitted to work with a laser.



Laser Supervisors are to be knowledgeable on the education and training requirements for the lasers under their control.  This should include knowledge on:

  • The potential laser hazards and associated control measures
  • Manufacturer's requirements for care and operation
  • Operating procedures developed for the procedures being undertaken

The supervisor shall also:

  1. Ensure that laser workers prior to operating or working in proximity to class 3b or class 4 lasers participate in the Laser Safety Program Training and complete the Laser Worker Registration form. 
  2. Report known or suspected accidents to the Laser Safety Officer. 
  3. Ensure that lasers under their control are not operated or modified without approval by the Laser Safety Officer. 
  4. Ensure that all administrative and engineering controls are followed. 
  5. Ensure that Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) are written and available to Laser Workers under their supervision.


  1. Will participate in the Laser Safety Training Course. 
  2. Will comply with regulations and standards prescribed by the Laser Safety Committee, Laser Safety Officer and the Laser Supervisor. 
  3. Will be familiar with standard operation procedures (SOP's) and specific safety hazards of lasers which they are operating or working in proximity to.
  4. Will not operate a Class 3b or Class 4 laser unless authorized by the laser supervisor. 
  5. Will report known or suspected accidents to their Laser Supervisor and the Laser Safety Officer. 
  6. Will ensure that all spectators are properly informed of and protected from all potential laser hazards.

Laser Safety Officer (LSO)

The Laser Safety Officer is directed by the Laser Safety Committee and will be knowledgeable in evaluation and control of laser hazards.  The LSO will also have the following responsibilities:

  1. Maintain an inventory of all Class 3b and Class 4 lasers. Classify or verify classification if necessary.
  2. Complete a hazard evaluation of laser work areas, including the establishment of Nominal Hazard Zones. 
  3. Approve standard operating procedures, alignment procedures and other control measures. 
  4. Provide consultative services on evaluation and control of laser hazards and worker training programs. 
  5. Inspect at least annually all class 3b and class 4 lasers for compliance with UW Laser Safety Program. Ensure any required corrective action is taken. 
  6. Suspend, restrict or terminate the operation of a laser or laser system without adequate hazard controls, and advise Laser Safety Committee of such action. 
  7. Approve wording on area signs and equipment labels. 
  8. Maintain records required by various regulatory bodies. Ensure records are maintained of medical examinations and training has been provided.


Training consists of the following components:

  1. Online training - course SO1066
  2. Practical training - "hands on" training developed and provided by the Laboratory Supervisor.  The practical training shall consist of the following components:
    1. Laser operation as described in the manufacturers laser operation manual
    2. Specific hazards
    3. The written Standard Operation Procedures (S.O.P.).  A basic template for creating SOPs can be downloaded here Blank standard operating procedures (Word)

Laser safety training course (SO1066)

Click to begin Laser safety training courseNote, currently our system does not automatically update your training record.  Please save and send a screen print of the completion of this course to:

To complete this course you will need a valid UW user ID.  If you do not have an account, please go here to activate your account:

 Account activation

Laser inventory

The Safety Office maintains an inventory of all class 3B and class 4 lasers

  • Information will be provided by the Laser Supervisor
  • The Safety Office will create a report indicating the nominal hazard zone and required OD for eye protection

Medical surveillance

Medical surveillance is limited to users of Class 3 B and class 4 lasers and will be conducted prior to beginning work with lasers.

The Occupational Health Nurse will conduct the initial eye exam. To make an appointment contact Karen Parkinson at ext 30338.

The examination will consist of:

  1. Ocular history
  2. Visual acuity
  3. Macular function (Amsler grid)
  4. Color vision (Ishihara)

The worker/student may be referred to a specialist if deemed necessary.

Records will be maintained by the Occupational Health Nurse.

Upon completion of the ophthalmic exam the Occupational Health Nurse will complete the ophthalmic exam portion of the worker record of training form.


Facilities housing lasers are requires to conform to ANSI Z136.1- 2007 to prevent unauthorized/accidental entry into the Nominal Hazard Zone of the laser

Supervisors information

To view the following information:

Click on the links below. You will be asked to authenticate using your WatIM UserID and password.

View a list of all workers listed under your laser permit

View a list of all equipment listed under your laser permit

View list of all laser workers at UW (Laser Committee members only)

View List of all lasers at UW (Laser Committee members Only)

Online laser application forms

Laser program online application forms.
Action to be completed Link
Applying for a new permit new permit application 
Adding a new laser to an existing permit add laser to permit 
Update laser location update laser location 
Transfer permit to another person transfer permit
Transfer laser to another permit transfer laser
Deactivate a laser deactivate a laser
Add a person to a permit add person to permit
Add a secondary permit holder add secondary permit holder
Remove a person from the permit remove person
Remove a secondary permit holder remove secondary permit holder
To view all the lasers on your permit laser permit