EHS logo

Inside this issue:

Environmental Health
& Safety

Medical Center
630 West 168th Street,
Mailbox #8
New York, NY  10032
Phone:  (212) 305-6780

Morningside Campus
S.W. Mudd Building, Suite 350
New York, NY  10027
Phone:  (212) 854-8749

Medical Center RSO
Alan Rosenfield Building
4th Floor
New York, NY 10032
Phone:(212 )305-0303

Are You Buying a Laser? by Muhammad Akram and Terrence Jaimungal

Are You Buying a Laser? by Muhammad Akram and Terrence Jaimungal
The main hazards of lasers used in research are the highly-focused, energy-dense beams of monochromatic light and the high voltage needed to operate such equipment.  Injuries can happen in an instant and result in lifelong damage or death from electric shock.  Lasers present a unique package of hazards, and their use at Columbia University is addressed in the CU Laser Safety Program.  Three aspects of the Laser Safety Program that are the most relevant to laser end-users are:

Laser Registration-Plan Ahead  Before a Class III or IV laser can be purchased or transferred from another institution, the user must complete a laser registration form, available at will not process your Purchase Order (PO) unless the form, approved by EH&S, is submitted along with the PO.  The user must provide specific information about the laser (wavelength, power, pulsed or continuous wave, nominal hazard zone, etc.) and its maintenance, most of which can be obtained directly from the manufacturer for commercial lasers. Registrants must also indicated the proposed location and identify those who will be using the laser.

Laser Safety Training End-users must list the personnel who will use the laser and note the applications of the particular device.  All users must attend Laser Safety Training conducted by EH&S on first Tuesday of each month at the Morningside campus. Training covers hazard recognition and control, and an overview of the CU laser policy.  It is best for laser users to attend in-person training before use. Refresher training is available through RASCAL ( PIs, senior lab staff, and/or representatives from the laser manufacturer must provide instructions in use of the specific laser purchased.

Laser Inspections Laser safety inspections, conducted by EH&S, are also an important part of Safety Program at CU. A primary goal of the inspections is to gather information about the types of lasers present on campus, how they are used in research settings, and to ensure laser controls are in place. Information gathered is used to enhance training and other elements of the Laser Safety Program.  To schedule an inspection, please contact EH&S at 212-854-8749 (@ MS) and 212-305.6780 (@ CUMC).

Why You May Not Need a Respirator by Muhammad Akram

Elimination of personal exposure through engineering controls (fume hoods, biological safety cabinets) and safe work practices is the best protection from respiratory hazards. The use of respirators, like other items of personnel protective equipment is considered a ‘last line of
defense’; their use is only allowed when other control methods are not effective or feasible

 Any institution that issues respirators to its employees must develop a comprehensive Respiratory Protection Plan: hazard assessment, medical clearance, respirator selection criteria, training and fit testing.  The vast majority of airborne hazards in laboratories and other settings can safely be managed through engineering controls and other safe work practices; if you believe that this is not the case for your work, contact EH&S; do not take it upon yourself to select and use a respirator.

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6

Go to Top
Go to EH&S Home Page