Government Regulations

Useful Resources

Laser safety requirements in the U.S. are usually centered on specific Federal Government and voluntary standards such as:

  • The Laser Product Performance Standard of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (21CFR 1040.10 and 1040.11)
  • the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z136 Series)
  • the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA 7400.2D). These are the principal standards used for both the laser manufacturers and users.
Aspects of laser use can also be regulated at the state and local government levels. In the past this was manifest by only a limited number of states that had developed regulations in the early days of laser use ~ca. 1970–1975!. Most of the states that introduced standards in that era still have standards in place. It is of note that most states have replaced the early versions with up-to-date documents based upon the current ANSI/CDRH philosophies. Only the State of Pennsylvania, in 1981, rescinded the laser regulation that had been originally passed on 10 October 1971. It should also be noted, however, that in the early years ~1970–1990!, many of the state rules were not well enforced. Also in this early era, local city or county laser regulations were nonexistent.

Today's State/Local Standard Activity

It is of note that activity in writing laser regulations at the state and local government levels has significantly increased since 1997. This discussion will attempt to review these developments by looking at the following major topics:

  • Review of comprehensive laser regulations for state governments that have enacted or are considering adoption of new or revised regulations.
  • Review of the current trends at the state or local level regarding laser pointer regulatory and/or enforcement activities.
  • Summary of the laser safety related regulatory trends obtained following a polling of the state agencies concerned with laser activities.
  • Review of ‘‘model state laser safety regulation’’ activities of the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD)
The discussion will include emphasis on those industry sectors that may be the most affected by the resurgence in state and local government laser safety regulations. Projections for future changes in these regulations will be made based upon the polling data gathered.

State Regulations

Comprehensive laser regulations vary considerably from state to state and have been historically concerned with registration of lasers and licensing of operators and institutions. Current trends now place emphasis on classification, controls, and training. In the past, physicians and medical lasers were generally exempt from most state requirements. The current trend is to include medical laser uses in the regulatory requirements. Comprehensive state standards relating to laser safety matters currently exist in ten states.

To learn more, download the full Government Regulations document.

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