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Health and Safety Briefing

HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGISLATION UPDATE

The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 came into effect on the 27th April 2010.

These regulations are aimed at employers who artificially produce ultraviolet, infrared and laser radiation either deliberately or as a by-product in order to protect staff and others from experiencing adverse health effects to the eyes (corneal damage, cataracts and blindness) and skin (reddening/burning, blistering and skin cancer).

The majority of artificial light sources are safe e.g. ceiling-mounted lighting used in offices, desk lamps, photocopiers, Light Emitting Diodes (LED's), remote control devices and any Class 1 laser light product such as laster printers and bar code scanners. These do not present a risk of harm to health and there is no need to do anything further.

However some sources of light can cause harm. Examples of which include the following:

  • Glass and metal working, where furnaces emit infra-red radiation
  • Welding activities
  • Plastics manufacturing involving laser bonding
  • Printing, where inks and paints are set by the process of photo-induced polymerisation
  • Where performers/models (and audience) may be directly illuminated by spotlights, effect lighting, modelling lights and flashlamps
  • Non-destructive testing, where ultraviolet radiation is used to reveal fluorescent dyes
  • Medical treatment, where practitioners and patients may be exposed to operating theatre spot lighting and to therapeutic use of optical radiation
  • Cosmetic treatment, which makes use of lasers and flashlamps, as well as ultraviolet and infrared sources
  • Where large open buildings are illuminated by powerful area lights, e.g. workshops/stores
  • Pharmaceuticals and research, where ultraviolet sterilisation may be in use
  • Research, where lasers and solar simulators may be in use and where ultraviolet induced fluorescence may be a useful tool
If hazardous sources are used, then control measures must be put into place to reduce the risk of harm and be considered along with other risks under normal operation, reasonably foreseeable fault conditions and during maintenance and servicing. This is the key requirement of the new regulations. Control measures to consider when managing AOR risks are:
  • Use an alternative safer light source that can achieve the same result
  • Use filters, screens, remote viewing, curtains, safety interlocks, dedicated rooms, remote controls
  • Training workers in best practice and provide them with appropriate information
  • Organise work to reduce exposure and restrict access to the hazardous areas
  • Use protective equipment such as clothing, goggles or face shields
  • Display relevant safety signs

If this has been carried out as part of the risk assessment process and controls are already in place, then you are already complying with this new statute.

For further information, please refer to the right hand column link for Health Protection England and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Information and Guidance.

The Radiation Protection Officer is available to assist in assessing any risks associated with non ionising (and ionising) radiation and needs to be informed of any new or existing equipment (if documentation has not already been submitted) that is considered a risk in this area.

Link to: Health Protection EnglandLink to: Health and Safety Executive GuidanceFurther advice can be sought from the Radiation Protection Officer M dot Smith dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk