I am always thinking about risk management so when I read an article about a problem with Laser Pointers my interest piqued.
A teenage boy damaged his eyes while playing with a handheld laser pointer that he had bought over the Internet, according to a case reported lasat year by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
"The lad suffered dark spots, known as central scotomas, and loss of image sharpness after shining the green diode laser beam into his eyes, a trio of specialists from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Manchester Royal Eye Hospital concluded.
Tests revealed he had burned the surface of the eye and disturbed the retina, the light-catching tissue at the back of the eyeball.
Two months later, the boy's visual acuity returned to normal but he still had retinal damage.
The authors of the letter note that, in general, retinal injuries caused by lasers may be permanent and lead to some vision loss in later years."
Because In the corporate events and rock concert industries we frequently see lasers used to enhance a performance or to add to the featured entertainment at a Gala the general public and some in the events industry aren't aware of potential dangers.
A Wikipedia article states:
"A laser lighting display or laser light show involves the use of laser light to entertain an audience. A laser light show may consist only of projected laser beams set to music, or may accompany another form of entertainment, typically a dance concert or other musical performance.
Laser light is useful in entertainment because the coherent nature of laser light allows a narrow beam to be produced, which allows the use of optical scanning to draw patterns or images on walls, ceilings or other surfaces including theatrical smoke and fog without refocusing for the differences in distance, as is common with video projection. This inherently more focused beam is also extremely visible, and is often used as an effect. Sometimes the beams are "bounced" to different positions with mirrors to create laser sculptures"
Safety issue are paramount. Again, from Wikipedia:
"Some lasers have the potential to cause eye damage if aimed directly into the eye, or if someone were to stare directly into a stationary laser beam. Some high-power lasers used in entertainment applications can also cause burns or skin damage if enough energy (typically a stationary beam) is directed onto the human body and at a close enough range. In the United States, the use of lasers in entertainment, like other laser products, is regulated by the Food and DRug Administration (FDA) and additionally by some state regulatory agencies such as New York State which requires licensure of some laser operators. Safety precautions used by laser lighting professionals include beamstops and procedures so that the beam is projected above the heads of the audience. It is possible, and in some countries commonplace, to do deliberate audience In such a case, the show is supposed to be designed and analyzed to keep the beam moving, so that no harmful amount of laser energy is ever received by any individual audience member.
Lasers used outdoors can pose a risk of "flash blindness" to pilots of aircraft if too-bright light enters the cockpit. In the U.S., outdoor laser use is jointly regulated by the FDA and the Federal Aviation Administration. For details, see the Wikipedia article Lasers and Safety."
Many speakers use laser pointers and are very careful. However, do we make sure that they are careful in the use of them? I have seen speakers who hold the laser pointer in their hand with laser beaming and move there arms to emphasice and that laser shines all over the place! What if it pointed at someone's eyes??!!
If you hire a laser show vendor, do you check credentials, and compliance? Do you remind your speakers to use their laser pointers carefully?