Lifeline Your Safety Resource
A publication of the Environmental Health & Safety Department
Issue Number 39 October 2008
Laser Pointer Update Were You Prepared?
Training Etiquette Mark Banister Jim Gindlesperger
The aftermath of Hurricane Ike produced
Most of you are aware that EH&S offers severe winds in the Pittsburgh area in mid-
numerous safety training classes. We are September. Those high winds created
pleased that so many have taken advantage numerous power outages throughout the area.
of the opportunity to attend these classes. You may have been among the thousands
However, a disturbing trend is developing that who were affected.
we would like to reverse: Too many people
Laser pointers have been around now for
are signing up for the classes but not Thinking back to those days, how did the
many, many years and are widely used in the
attending. power outages limit your activities? Were you
college and university environment. Most
able to put gas in your car? Many service
laser pointers are “Class 3a,” referring to their
While this may seem like an insignificant stations could not provide gas because they
power and visible light emissions. These
problem, there is much more to it than initially had no electricity to operate their pumps. Did
lasers are of sufficient power to be hazardous
appears. you try to use an ATM, only to find out that no
under both direct and certain reflected
cash was available because the ATM wouldn’t
Class sizes are limited by the size of the operate? How about water for cooking,
room. On many of our more popular classes it drinking, or sanitation at home? Did you have
There have been many reports of at least
is necessary to cut off registration when that to go to one of the centers providing water
temporary vision loss after brief, "prank-type"
limit is reached. Anyone wishing to sign up for from portable tanks, or had you followed
exposures. Verified retinal injuries have been
a class for which registration is closed must emergency instructions that recommended
confirmed from persons exposed to longer
wait until it is offered again. When people having a three-day supply of water on hand
periods of time.
sign up but do not attend, it deprives someone for every member of the family, should
else of the opportunity to acquire needed something like this occur?
Most recently, there has been a troubling
surge in the use of even more powerful laser
Power can go off for many reasons, and often
pointers, available from outside the US. In
A recent class exemplifies this quite well. The it can be off for as long as weeks at a time.
addition to the increased hazard, many of
class limit of 25 participants was reached Wind, ice storms, blizzards, failures in the
these units are not properly labeled.
several weeks before the class was to meet. distribution grid . . . all these things can impact
On the day of the class, only seven of those our daily lives and prohibit us from doing the
Consider the following tips for laser pointer
who had signed up attended. This meant 18 things we have come to take for granted.
people who may have attended were deprived
of that chance because others failed to let us Before the next emergency, whether it be a
• Never look directly into a laser beam
know they would not attend. power failure, flood, ice storm or some other
• Never shine a laser pointer at anyone.
type of emergency, it would be a good idea to
Laser pointers are designed to illustrate
We recognize that schedules often create set up an emergency plan for your home,
conflicts, but when possible, please contact including stocking up on water and food. For
EH&S when you become aware that you will • Do not allow minors to use a pointer guidance on how to do this, go to the EH&S
not be able to attend a class that you had unsupervised. Laser pointers are not web site: http://ehs-
signed up for. This is just good etiquette, and toys. alert.fms.bap.cmu.edu/EHSWebSite/Emergen
it will allow us to reopen the registration for • Do not point a laser pointer at mirror-like cyOperations/EOPGeneral.htm and scroll
others who had wanted to attend but could not surfaces. A reflected beam can act like a down to Home Emergency Plan.
because the registration was closed. direct beam on the eye.
• Never remove filters or otherwise alter the
To those of you who have contacted us when device in any way. LASER Cutting Devices
you were unable to attend, we thank you and • Do not purchase a laser pointer if it does Andrew Lawson
want you to know we appreciate it. To those not have a caution or danger sticker on it
of you who have not done so in the past, identifying its class. Do not use a Class
please do so in the future when possible. It 3b or Class 4 laser pointer. Report
could be you who will get a second chance to suspicious devices to the FDA.
register if someone else is courteous enough
to notify us when they will be unable to attend. Laser pointers can be very helpful
We appreciate your cooperation on this. instructional aids. Responsible use of them is LASER cutting devices are very versatile tools
necessary due to their potential for harm. that can be used to cut or drill wood, plastics,
and metals. These devices are often very
economical, efficient and can easily be
automated. Due to these features, these
devices have found their way to campus.
Lifeline Your Safety Resource
A publication of the Environmental Health & Safety Department
Before you purchase this type of equipment been prevented if the person had been Shipping of Dangerous Goods
there are some things to consider. wearing eye protection. Jeffrey Harris
Typically, these LASERs are classified by the One of the most common safety violations in
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Carnegie Mellon’s labs is not wearing
as Class 1 LASERs. Class 1 LASERs emit adequate eye protection. Contact with
low levels of energy that are not hazardous to chemicals caused one-fifth of all eye injuries
the eyes or skin. However, enclosed within last year. Most of our lab areas contain
these devices are often Class 3B or 4 chemicals which could cause damage to your
The Carnegie Mellon University Program for
LASERs which are capable of emitting high eyes if they were to come in contact with
Shipping of Dangerous Goods can be found
levels of energy which are hazardous to the them. Safety glasses and goggles are
under the Quick Links Tab on our website
eyes and skin. Therefore, the beams required in all areas that use or store
(www.cmu.edu/ehs). Our office has staff that
generated by these devices are safe when hazardous materials. Putting them on as soon
are trained and certified in how to properly
operated according to manufacturer’s as you enter the lab is a good habit to get into.
identify, classify, package, mark, label and
instructions, but only trained personnel should
package in accordance with national and
perform maintenance and other procedures Eye protection is a big deal in the workplace
international regulations. Here are a few new
that involve breaching the enclosure. outside of the university and failure to comply
changes to know;
with your employer’s policies could result in
These devices can be hazardous, however, suspension or even job loss. Repeated failure Shipments to or from the European Union:
when the beam is used to cut or drill certain to wear eye protection here at CMU could
Customers who offer dangerous goods
metals, plastics, and other materials. As the result in your losing lab privileges.
shipments to or from European Union
beam strikes these materials they have the
countries participating in the European
potential to produce Laser-generated Air Most of the injured workers who did not wear
Agreement Concerning the International
Contaminants (LGAC). These contaminants their eye protection said they did not believe it
Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)
may be gaseous or particulate and can, under was required by the situation. The lesson here
are now required to include the following
certain conditions, pose health risks to those is that you can never predict what will happen
statement in the Additional Handling section of
exposed to them. The contaminant generated next and that it is always better to be “safe
their Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous
will depend on the type of material that is than sorry”.
Goods: “ADR European Transport
being cut or drilled. Cutting or drilling of some
Statement: Carriage in accordance with
materials can generate airborne benzene, Besides safety glasses and goggles, make
toluene, hydrochloric acid, isocyanates, and sure you know where your eyewash is located
other by-products which may be hazardous. in your lab and how it operates. Remember
If this statement is missing, your shipment
you need to flush your eyes for at least 15
may be delayed by local Europen regulatory
To control the hazards associated with cutting minutes. Test your eyewashes often to ensure
agencies. This requirement applies to
or drilling certain metals, plastics, and other that they are working properly and that you
shipments to or from the following European
materials, ventilation systems must be used to have a clean and clear flow of water.
Union countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech
reduce or eliminate personnel exposures to
Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great
these hazards and to safely exhaust them If you have any questions about CMU’s eye
Britain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg,
outside of the room in which they are protection requirements or whether your
Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and
generated. situation requires the use of eye protection,
please contact Michael Fouch at
EH&S must be consulted before the purchase firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at Leak-Proof Liner for Liquids:
or acquisition of these systems so that the 268-3221.
If you are using outer packaging that is not
need for ventilation systems, if any, can be
liquid-tight, a leak-proof liner is required for
adequately addressed and to ensure that all
certain packing groups.
other potential hazards and issues are Congratulations!
evaluated and controlled to the greatest extent Jim Gindlesperger Unregulated Biological Material:
If the shipment contains perishable biological
materials, paste a purple Biological Perishable
For more information, please contact Andrew
Materials sticker on box. This includes
Lawson at 8-8405 or Mark Banister at 8-1493.
biological material that definitely cannot cause
Andrew Lawson, the Biological Safety Officer disease. Examples include purified enzymes,
for EH&S, recently completed the sterilized specimens, non-pathogenic bacteria
requirements for his Master of Science degree as well as toxins, antitoxins, vaccines, blood
in Industrial Hygiene at West Virginia and blood products that are used for
University. Please join us in offering transplantation or in a transfusion, but have no
congratulations to Andrew for this outstanding or very low probability of producing disease.
According to OSHA, an estimated 1,000 eye
injuries occur in American workplaces
everyday. Most of these injuries could have