Powerful Tools Need Powerful Protection
Kevin Robinson, Senior News Editor
Injuries from lasers are nothing new. Every year since the laser's invention more than 30 years ago, laser technicians, research assistants, seasoned laser engineers and Ph.D. physicists get hurt using these powerful tools. Eye injuries are the most common result of a laser accident, but lasers have been implicated in skin burns, paper and surgical drapery fires and fatal fires in the airways of patients undergoing laser surgery. Although eye protection is an important component of laser safety, truly safe laser operation must factor in proper ventilation, fire prevention and stray light control. Institutions and companies are responsible for providing safety equipment, but ultimately the responsibility for safe laser operation falls squarely on the user.