Boring or Essential? What's a Laser Safety Officer Do?
Am I one?
The Laser Safety Officer (LSO) is a person who is knowledgeable and competent in the assessment and control of laser hazards and has responsibility and authority for oversight of the control of laser hazards.
If you are a solo practitioner, then this is YOU!
The LSO should be trained in laser operation, clinical application, and operator and user safety and be fully aware of the types of lasers and their applications to various services and procedures undertaken in the facility. They are the laser guru in your facility.
You are responsible for you
While under the principles of workplace health and safety, the management (employer) of a health care facility has the ultimate responsibility for safety, the laser user and operator carry responsibility for immediate safety during laser procedures.
Who says I have to do it?
The roles and responsibilities of the LSO are explicit in the AS/NZ 4173:2018 Safe use of lasers and light sources in health care (Standards Australia) and also in legislation such as that in Western Australia.
What am I supposed to do anyway?
- Act as the laser advocate and the laser education coordinator
- Initiate and monitor compliance with relevant legislation, standards and policies.
How will I do it?
(a) By taking all practicable steps to be satisfied that all lasers and laser systems used in the health care facility are correctly classified according to AS/NZS IEC 60825.1
(b) By evaluating the hazards in laser work areas
(c) By determining the nominal ocular hazard areas (NOHAs) and maintenance of controlled access
(d) By taking all practicable steps to be satisfied that the prescribed control measures are in effect, recommending or approving substitute or alternate control measures when the primary measures are not feasible or practical, and periodically auditing the control measures in use.
(e) They are responsible for the approval of standard operating procedures, alignment procedures, and other procedures that may be part of the requirements for administrative and procedural control measures.
(f) Recommending, approving and monitoring appropriate and safe use of all protective equipment, i.e. eye protection, clothing, barriers and screens as may be required to assure personnel safety.
(g) Approving the wording on working area signs and equipment labels
(h) Taking all practicable steps to be satisfied that only approved technicians perform maintenance and service.
(i) Taking all practicable steps to be satisfied that appropriate safety education and training is provided to all staff.
(j) Initiating and supervising the investigation of all accidents and incidents involving lasers.
(k) Advising the laser owner on conformance to the relevant Australian/New Zealand) laser equipment Standard, relevant local legislation and professional recommended practices.
(l) Reporting laser accidents and incidents to the responsible state or Commonwealth regulatory authority where required by law.
Phew! Big job.
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