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Thread: Laser safety laws in Europe

  1. #1
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    Default Laser safety laws in Europe

    So yesterday I went to a small party at a small venue somewhere in Belgium. I took my 300 mW green laser with me along with some other lights. The venue was nice, not very large but we weren't expecting a lot of people (about 100 maximum). The ceilings were nice and high (I estimate around 5 m). There were some bars at the ceiling and one of them was a perfect spot for the laser and after a lot of effort on scaffolding, the laser and cables were in place. There was a bit of concrete directly behind the bar preventing the laser from unexpectedly tilting down. The bar looks sturdy enough to hold a few grown men, and I used a TÜV-approved Doughty clamp. I was pretty sure nothing could ever go wrong with this setup. Even if it did go wrong, the scanners are 30 kpps, the beam is "only" 300 mW and has a pretty high divergence.

    Then the venue manager looks at what we're doing and asks if that big scary box is a laser. He gets a bit nervous but allows the laser to stay in place if I sign a waiver of liability (or whatever the correct juridical term is) where I take responsability for possible eye damage due to laser radiation. No problem for me, the lowest the beams could go were about 3 m above ground level and I planned on staying near the laptop while the laser is running. The public were mostly composed of friends and in the many times I did a similar party for the same audience, nobody ever used a laser pointer. I'm sure if somebody did, I could ask them not to. The crowd weren't ravers or punters or whatever the term is but rather chilled out hippies.

    Then comes the venue lighting guy. He asks how much mW the laser is. I say about 300. Then he claims lasers above 300 mW need an interlock by law (which -mea culpa- I don't have. Usually I solve this problem by setting up the laser in such a way I simply don't need an interlock). My jaw dropped. I have never heard about laser show safety laws in Belgium, despite a search. As far as I know, I wasn't violating any European laws with the setup at the venue (the laser beam could never reach the audience). Now I have to admit my knowledge about laws is lacking. I believe there is a law concering radiation and employees.
    The light guy told me he got most of his information from the Phoenix manual. We talked about this topic a bit, but sadly they won and we had to take the laser down
    The rest of the night was spent with boring non-coherent lights.

    Now I'm left with a lot of questions.

    - Where is that law that states you need an interlock above 300 mW? Why 300 mW? I have never heard of such a limit.
    - What is the regulation in Europe and specifically Belgium? I was told Belgium simply copies the regulations of other countries. I'm really bad with legal stuff so I'm clueless as to where even begin searching.
    - Does anybody have a copy of the Phoenix manual with the laser safety regulations? Apparently only the German edition has it.
    - Does the European law about protecting employees from harmful radiation apply when the employees are volunteers?
    - Does the law apply when the party is invite-only? What if the party asks money for income and drinks (but is still invite-only) without the intention of making a profit?
    - How about projecting in the sky? Obviously projecting at airplanes is out of the question. But is there any regulation regarding laser shows near airports? Do you need to request such shows? Where do you request them?
    - Are there any laws about audience scanning? What is allowed? What isn't? What are the requirements for the projector?

    The PL safety wiki is a bit lacking. There are entries for the UK and the Netherlands. None for Belgium or Europe in general. Any pointers?

  2. #2
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    IEC 60825 (parts 1 [Equipment classification and requirements], 3 [Guidance for Laser Displays and Shows] and 14 [Safety of Laser Products - user guide] ) cover laser manufacture, specifications and use in Europe.

    I believe that all class 3r and 4 lasers should have an interlock, so although your guy has the details wrong on power, he is fundamentally right.

    Note that 'interlocks' (and it would be good for you explain what you mean by the word 'interlock', as they manifest in different forms for different purposes - case interlock, estop interlock, etc.... I'm assuming you're referring to an estop in this case?) can be inplemented in a few ways, and some are carried over the ILDA cable, so the lack of a specific separate connector doesn't mean there's no interlock/estop in place.

    I must say I'm surprised at the level of lack of knowledge you've declared, given how long you've used the site and must've read in passing.
    Also that you are looking for a distinction between volunteers and paid employees - are the volunteers eye safety less important then?

    Are there any laws about audience scanning? What is allowed? What isn't? What are the requirements for the projector?
    Generally, you must be at or under MPE, have a scanfail device fitted at a minimum - aside from all the 'usual' things like startup delay, estop, etc and probably (as with most H&S things these days) be able to prove 'competency', both in being able to evaluate if a show is safe, take all reasonable steps to ensure it is if it isn't, and then actually carry out the safe show.

    So first steps would probably be to do a safety course, where you'll find out about regulations and laws you'll need to comply with, and how to comply with them.
    Frikkin Lasers
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    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

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    Don't quote me on this....

    European laws regarding laser display installation may or may not exist, however employment law does. If you ignore any guidance and if something goes wrong and you end up in court, you would have to explain why you were not using the recommended guidance. A good place to start may be looking at employment law relating to working with artificial optical radiation. This should eventually point to any specific laws and documents if they exist.

    You could also ask James at LVR as he works across Europe AFAIK.

    Keith

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    Quote Originally Posted by colouredmirrorball View Post
    ...Then comes the venue lighting guy. He asks how much mW the laser is. I say about 300. Then he claims lasers above 300 mW need an interlock by law..
    I would have told him 'Show it to me. 'Chapter and Verse', not some vague, '..oh, it's out there, somewhere..'.. If someone confronts you like that, the 'burden of proof' is on them, since they are the ones accusing you of being in (supposed..) violation.. And, re:..

    Quote Originally Posted by colouredmirrorball View Post
    ..The light guy told me he got most of his information from the Phoenix manual....Apparently only the German edition has it.
    ..I would have told him, 'Sorry, but that's just generic info / 'guidelines', so that the software-manufacturer 'covers their *' - NOT a listing of (any) laws, nor as they might apply in Belgium'.. If anything, if, indeed, '..only the German edition has it' would imply whatever is in there, is specifically / exclusively applies to the laser-Regs in Germany..

    ..So, ANYone telling You that 'you need to be in conformity with the law' (therefore, 'claiming' to know a) what the 'law' IS, and b) how it applies in the context of what they are saying it does (the Venue, there..) should be able to quote / or at least, point-to, 'Chapter and Verse', in order to enforce it on you, like that.. Too bad you had to suffer the loss of the gig because they 'bullied' you into it.. :/

    HOWEVER.. If you, yourself, know the 'Regs', and what does / doesn't apply, locally, then you, yourself, are armed to 'push back', authoritatively.. Education will always be your greatest weapon

    Quote Originally Posted by colouredmirrorball View Post
    I have never heard about laser show safety laws in Belgium, despite a search. As far as I know, I wasn't violating any European laws..What is the regulation in Europe and specifically Belgium?
    ..And - at least, relative to Shows (vs Industrial or Medical-practice..) there might not be any, I dunno, never looked ..and sometimes, 'Google' over here, is not able to 'look too-deeply', into servers / networks over there.. So, (we, here..) might not be able to help too-much..

    ..But, in general, the only 'overarching Europe standards' are the 'IEC standards', but IEC compliance is 'voluntary' in that the standards are not exactly like a 'local-Law' nor are the IEC 'the Police', etc.. it would still be up to local Regulators (in Belgium..) to say, ie: 'Public Laser shows shall only be performed in compliance with IEC Standards 60825-XX (as-relevant..) and shall further be-subject to local or regional statutes, as-applicable'; Violations / Enforcement are dealt with via: (XYZ..).. something like that..

    Here's an overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interna...#IEC_standards ..And, it does-appear that since Belgium is a 'full member', http://www.iec.ch/dyn/www/f?p=103:16...SP_ORG_ID:1008 ..the Country, as a whole, is subject to the standards, but again, how they 'apply' them / enforce, in-Country, relative to laser shows, needs to be researched / clarified..

    Here's the 'start point' / overall-standards for laser-products: http://webstore.iec.ch/webstore/webs...4!opendocument ..And, one of the sub-sections more specific to shows: http://webstore.iec.ch/webstore/webs...2!opendocument ..fwiw..

    I'd suggest getting in touch with James Stewart (thread discussing his course / his contact info is in his response..) http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...431#post271431

    Quote Originally Posted by colouredmirrorball View Post
    The PL safety wiki is a bit lacking. There are entries for the UK and the Netherlands. None for Belgium or Europe in general. Any pointers?
    Well.. first, Kudos that you went there.. ..but, I only started to populate what I could find via Google, etc to just 'seed' it.. I had hoped that others would 'follow suit', and populate with their own-Countries Regs / Laws, as-able.. Sure, some people say '..but I don't know how to edit the Wiki', well.. We do have a really-good Janitor.. Still, others have, and that's great to see. I guess no one has 'gotten around' to researching Belgium's application of the IEC-standards / other local-Regs, as may-be..

    Hope this helps..
    j
    ....and armed only with his trusty 21 Zorgawatt KTiOPO4...

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    Quote Originally Posted by norty303 View Post
    IEC 60825 (parts 1 [Equipment classification and requirements], 3 [Guidance for Laser Displays and Shows] and 14 [Safety of Laser Products - user guide] ) cover laser manufacture, specifications and use in Europe.
    I actually have a copy of those three documents on my computer. I just didn't realize they are European laws (they mention UK). I guess this is what I meant by European laws regarding safety of employees after a brief reread. They indeed look more like guidelines.


    Quote Originally Posted by norty303 View Post
    I believe that all class 3r and 4 lasers should have an interlock, so although your guy has the details wrong on power, he is fundamentally right.

    Note that 'interlocks' (and it would be good for you explain what you mean by the word 'interlock', as they manifest in different forms for different purposes - case interlock, estop interlock, etc.... I'm assuming you're referring to an estop in this case?) can be inplemented in a few ways, and some are carried over the ILDA cable, so the lack of a specific separate connector doesn't mean there's no interlock/estop in place.
    I think an estop through Ilda would be good enough.
    I'll admit that the lack of an estop in my projector is not very smart. I don't do commercial shows with my laser so I don't feel the urge to make this a priority. Especially if I can make sure beams stay well overhead.

    Quote Originally Posted by norty303 View Post

    I must say I'm surprised at the level of lack of knowledge you've declared, given how long you've used the site and must've read in passing.
    Also that you are looking for a distinction between volunteers and paid employees - are the volunteers eye safety less important then?
    My only concern here is the law. That's where my lack of knowledge is. My shows are safe. I can't verify the safety of my beams since I don't have a fancy power meter, so I make sure the beams stay the hell out of anybody's eyes, volunteering or not. Until now I had the assumption that as long as nobody can get hurt, I should be fine. This is the first thing I ever heard of laws specifically applying to laser show safety in my particular situation.

    There is a difference between what is legal and what is safe. I'd like to know what steps I should take to make my shows safe and legal. Is it good enough if I follow IEC 60825? Will I be legal in Belgium? How do I prove that to tight-arsed venue owners?


    Quote Originally Posted by norty303 View Post
    Generally, you must be at or under MPE, have a scanfail device fitted at a minimum - aside from all the 'usual' things like startup delay, estop, etc and probably (as with most H&S things these days) be able to prove 'competency', both in being able to evaluate if a show is safe, take all reasonable steps to ensure it is if it isn't, and then actually carry out the safe show.

    So first steps would probably be to do a safety course, where you'll find out about regulations and laws you'll need to comply with, and how to comply with them.
    I'd love to do a laser safety course in the future but currently it's low on my priorities list. Until then I don't audience scan. Well, not in public anyway :P

    Quote Originally Posted by Galvonaut View Post
    Don't quote me on this....
    I just did

    Quote Originally Posted by Galvonaut View Post

    European laws regarding laser display installation may or may not exist, however employment law does. If you ignore any guidance and if something goes wrong and you end up in court, you would have to explain why you were not using the recommended guidance. A good place to start may be looking at employment law relating to working with artificial optical radiation. This should eventually point to any specific laws and documents if they exist.

    You could also ask James at LVR as he works across Europe AFAIK.

    Keith
    Are these the IEC 60825 documents? Looking at those I do see some points of improvement (as to if it is worth it to implement them for two or three noncommercial shows a year is another thing).

    Quote Originally Posted by dsli_jon View Post
    I would have told him 'Show it to me. 'Chapter and Verse', not some vague, '..oh, it's out there, somewhere..'.. If someone confronts you like that, the 'burden of proof' is on them, since they are the ones accusing you of being in (supposed..) violation.. And, re:..
    Would have loved to do that, but we didn't want any trouble with the venue. Their house, their rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by dsli_jon View Post

    HOWEVER.. If you, yourself, know the 'Regs', and what does / doesn't apply, locally, then you, yourself, are armed to 'push back', authoritatively.. Education will always be your greatest weapon
    Figured that. That's why this thread exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by dsli_jon View Post

    ..And - at least, relative to Shows (vs Industrial or Medical-practice..) there might not be any, I dunno, never looked ..and sometimes, 'Google' over here, is not able to 'look too-deeply', into servers / networks over there.. So, (we, here..) might not be able to help too-much..

    ..But, in general, the only 'overarching Europe standards' are the 'IEC standards', but IEC compliance is 'voluntary' in that the standards are not exactly like a 'local-Law' nor are the IEC 'the Police', etc.. it would still be up to local Regulators (in Belgium..) to say, ie: 'Public Laser shows shall only be performed in compliance with IEC Standards 60825-XX (as-relevant..) and shall further be-subject to local or regional statutes, as-applicable'; Violations / Enforcement are dealt with via: (XYZ..).. something like that..

    Here's an overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interna...#IEC_standards ..And, it does-appear that since Belgium is a 'full member', http://www.iec.ch/dyn/www/f?p=103:16...SP_ORG_ID:1008 ..the Country, as a whole, is subject to the standards, but again, how they 'apply' them / enforce, in-Country, relative to laser shows, needs to be researched / clarified..

    Here's the 'start point' / overall-standards for laser-products: http://webstore.iec.ch/webstore/webs...4!opendocument ..And, one of the sub-sections more specific to shows: http://webstore.iec.ch/webstore/webs...2!opendocument ..fwiw..

    I'd suggest getting in touch with James Stewart (thread discussing his course / his contact info is in his response..) http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...431#post271431
    Thanks for the starting points. I'll know what to do the next few days.

    Quote Originally Posted by dsli_jon View Post

    Well.. first, Kudos that you went there.. ..but, I only started to populate what I could find via Google, etc to just 'seed' it.. I had hoped that others would 'follow suit', and populate with their own-Countries Regs / Laws, as-able.. Sure, some people say '..but I don't know how to edit the Wiki', well.. We do have a really-good Janitor.. Still, others have, and that's great to see. I guess no one has 'gotten around' to researching Belgium's application of the IEC-standards / other local-Regs, as may-be..

    Hope this helps..
    j
    If I find anything I'll add it to the wiki.
    Last edited by colouredmirrorball; 03-23-2014 at 16:17. Reason: forgot to continue replying to Jon

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    One thing you should do is buy a roll of black aluminium tape if you don't already own it.
    This way you can mask the aperture and then you aren't relying on zones to control beams in audience.
    Short of the actual projector getting moved, no beam should able go where it's not supposed to.
    Also, although it's not really recommended, showing the action of the escape key might work, as will being able to show that disconnecting the DAC or ILDA cable renders the projector safe. This is where standalone boards can be your enemy
    Frikkin Lasers
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    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

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    P.S. As you rightly point out, it's their decision. Some venues in the UK do not have a license to allow pyro and special effects [lasers] by default (in fact quite a few, but they probably don't realise it), which is where one-off applications come in.
    Even if they do, some have had such bad experiences with providers that they just blanket say no crowd scanning. It's their license, so their choice.
    Frikkin Lasers
    http://www.frikkinlasers.co.uk

    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by norty303 View Post
    One thing you should do is buy a roll of black aluminium tape if you don't already own it.
    This way you can mask the aperture and then you aren't relying on zones to control beams in audience.
    Short of the actual projector getting moved, no beam should able go where it's not supposed to.
    Also, although it's not really recommended, showing the action of the escape key might work, as will being able to show that disconnecting the DAC or ILDA cable renders the projector safe. This is where standalone boards can be your enemy
    I'll make sure to have some black tape nearby on the next show.
    Escape key and disconnecting USB or Ilda cable immediately disrupts laser output but I doubt they'd have accepted that. No standalone card, just direct ilda signals.

    Those are some good hints, but obviously the venue wasn't interested in actual safety. I have a pretty good understanding about how to do a show safely (or at least how it should be done). There was no way the laser, in that setup, could have caused eye damage. Literally the only way is when somebody would throw up a mirror while I was doing static beams, or the bottom half of the projector would come loose and fall down. That's a risk I'm willing to take :P

    But when they started talking about regulations I have never heard of, I realized that no matter how safe my shows are, if I can't prove they're legal people like them will never agree with shows. So I started this thread so next time I'm prepared. (Or if shit really hits the pan I can defend myself in court but I rather not think about that).

    We hired some light equipment from some sort of public renting service for youth organisations. One of the things we got was a maybe 100 mW green laser with stepper motors. Between that one and my 30 kpps 300 mW green, guess which one is safer, and which one we were allowed to use in the venue according to their interpretation of some vague laws.
    For the record, I did not use the rented 100 mW laser.

  9. #9
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    I'll make sure to have some black tape nearby on the next show.
    Ordinary black tape will just burn from a static beam. You want this stuff...

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BLACKTAK-M...item5af0be293b
    Frikkin Lasers
    http://www.frikkinlasers.co.uk

    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colouredmirrorball View Post
    There is a difference between what is legal and what is safe. I'd like to know what steps I should take to make my shows safe and legal. Is it good enough if I follow IEC 60825? Will I be legal in Belgium? How do I prove that to tight-arsed venue owners?
    if they lack common sense then you only have to rely on the law, try to search some laws on safety hazards, eye-protection should be included within that

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