Laser Shutdown & Safety Day - November 9, 2022

October 28, 2022
The following message was sent to Laser Use Principal Investigators (PIs) on October 28, 2022.

Laser Free Day - November 9, 2022

After nearly 20 years without any reported laser injuries and only a few laser incidents on the Berkeley campus, there have been 5 laser exposure incidents within the past 15 months. One incident led to minor, but permanent, retinal damage in a student. For each incident, there were violations of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and/or failure to adhere to campus regulations on laser use.

In response to this uptick, I am supporting the Non-Ionizing Radiation Safety Committee (NIRSC) in implementing a “Laser Free Day” on Wednesday, November 9, 2022. All labs that conduct laser research are required to PAUSE ALL LASER RESEARCH and spend the day engaging in laser and lab safety review and training. NIRSC and Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) are planning a series of presentations and other activities. Please plan for members of your lab, including yourself, to attend one of two presentations, to be held 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM. More information about how to attend will be sent to you in the coming days.
Activities for the day are included in this NIRSC: Guidance for Laser Labs for the Safety Pause document. The guidance emphasizes the importance of promoting knowledge transfer, improving safety practice, and strengthening the culture of safety awareness within individual labs. This information will be reflected in a future update to the campus Laser Safety Manual (LSM).  All labs using lasers will be required to hold an in-person meeting with the sole purpose of addressing laser safety issues in the lab. PIs will be asked to attest to holding the meeting, that all laser users in their lab have read the Laser Safety Manual, and commit to promoting engagement and discussion of safe work practices in research endeavors.

The forthcoming updated LSM will require in-person engagement between the PI and lab members to check laser compliance (training, LUAs, SOPs) and formal walk-throughs of the labs to identify and improve on engineering and administrative controls and PPE use to prevent laser-related incidents.

Safety is the responsibility of everyone in the lab, at all levels. It is not our goal to single out individuals or labs, but rather to reinforce a culture of safety across campus, identify and address major safety risks, empower all individuals to report any concerns, and learn from incidents when they occur.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Katherine Yelick
Vice Chancellor for Research

Austin Roorda
Chair, Non-Ionizing Radiation Safety Committee (NIRSC)


Laser Free Day Details

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Laser Free Day Information

Two laser safety presentations were held on Wednesday, November 9; 10:00am - 12:00pm and 2:00pm - 4:00pm. Both presentations were identical and were held in-person at 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Building and virtually via Zoom. Laser Use Principal Investigators (PIs) were encouraged to attend the session that worked best with their schedules.

Online option

Those unable to attend in-person were encouraged to attend the virtual Zoom session. Those who were unable to attend in-person or virtually are encouraged to watch the following Laser Free Day Presentation recording.