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How Safe Are Lasers


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I recently bought a KAM cluster laser.

i read through the instructions and it really scared me, the things it said, about safe distances, and possible damage to the eyes retina (no pain is felt), i immediatly sent it back to djkit and ordered a LED incrediLED, i loved the cluster effects but there is so many safety issues that i didnt want to harm anybody.

 

anybody know how safe they are , or are we all dicing with future blindness aswell to contend with our ringing ears.

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I recently bought a KAM cluster laser.

i read through the instructions and it really scared me, the things it said, about safe distances, and possible damage to the eyes retina (no pain is felt), i immediatly sent it back to djkit and ordered a LED incrediLED, i loved the cluster effects but there is so many safety issues that i didnt want to harm anybody.

 

anybody know how safe they are , or are we all dicing with future blindness aswell to contend with our ringing ears.

 

Jim Bolan is your guy. I use lasers for my day job (science based work - not DJ/Visual lasers), from what I understand, Jim has build his own Lasers and is knowledgeable in the safety side.

 

 

The main crux will be the scan rate and power output. If the laser beam is moving fast and the power level is low, then the risk of damage is lower than with a fixed laser with higher power. Basically, the damage is the energy of light hitting your retina.

 

The KAM cluster laser HAS to be CE marked, and to achieve this, KAM will have required to perform specific measurements on the output power, beam dispersion and scan rate. (we have to do this on our instruments to get CE certification).

Reading their blurb. they're rightly pushing the responsibility for safe use back to the operator.

 

KAM do have a guide on Class 3 lasers;

http://www.kam.co.uk/media/file/product/ma...r_guide_web.pdf

This is fairly well written, and does put the onus on the owner to ensure it is operated safely.

 

In fact we have a "Laser Safety Officer" in our office. He knows the risks and the dangers of each laser/optical system we use and trains people in their safe use.

 

I understand your concerns and if you're not happy using them, you've made a good call.

 

 

Its best to treat them like any other dangerous effect (ie pyro/confetti cannons etc) and be aware of the risks and work out the best way to mitigate them. For lasers, you'd aim them away from the crowd, so the beams could not hit guests.

If you know what you're doing- you may be able to know that you can point it at the crowd with no ill effects due to scan rate, power and dispersion -but if someone did develop eye problems you could be in trouble (and hope that your PLI was up to date!)

 

Jason

 

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Thanks for the kudos Jason.

 

The "cluster" lasers are pretty safe.

They produce the effect by sending the beam through a diffraction grating, what this does is split the beam up into hundreds of beams each beam being hundreds of times less powerful that the original beam, unlike when the effect is made by the laser "drawing" each of the little patterns individually which would then mean each beam is full power.

 

Jim

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Reading their blurb. they're rightly pushing the responsibility for safe use back to the operator....

 

...and does put the onus on the owner to ensure it is operated safely.

 

...be aware of the risks and work out the best way to mitigate them. For lasers, you'd aim them away from the crowd, so the beams could not hit guests.

 

Yes - highly recommend the common sense approach. :D

 

 

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great info jason and jim, i may reconsider getting one if the beam is split up and not as powerful, still got to follow them awkward regs though.

 

They are not too bad. You probably do some basic risk assessment when you set up (no trip hazzards, no fire exits blocked, lights secured with safety rope etc), you'll also follow regs with regard to driving to the venue!

 

I'll probably be purchasing a KAM 3D Cluster later this year, and will be aiming at ceilings or walls.

 

 

 

 

 

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Whats the point in having a light if you cant point it at the dancefloor, the only solution for me would to be to point it directly over their heads, is this what they do nowdays.

With the cluster lasers they are safe to point at the dance floor. They are more effective on walls and ceilings though.

 

There are different powers of lasers and different regulations on the use of them, also what country you live in has different regulations too.

 

For example, the rules and regulations in the USA are VERY STRICT and are enforced down to the letter of the law. Anything above 5mW needs to have extensive safety features and then to use it in public you need to file all the details about the show. Also it is virtually impossible to do any audience scanning at all.

On the other hand is Eastern European countries where lasers are largely unregulated, they regularly do audience scanning with multi Watt lasers.

 

Here in the UK we are somewhere in between. There are regulations concerning the use of lasers, and the powers that can be used. IEC 60825-3 2008, is the standard laser shows must now attain, the document only costs about £200 LOL (Supersedes HSG95 which was £10) . There is nothing to stop anybody from importing a 5W laser from China, with NO safety features, although the laser will come CE marked (a legal requirement) in practice they will not meet the standard. In America it would not get passed customs.

At present in the UK the standards are not rigorously enforced, however more and more councils have now got Laser Safety Officers that are aware of the standards and will restrict the use of lasers in licensed premises if they do not meet the standards.

You need to think of laser safety in the same way you think of PAT and PLI. In todays society people LOOK for reasons they can claim compensation, PATing your equipment will show that you have acted responsibly if somebody does get an electric shock and tries to claim against you, it will show that you took all precautions against electric shock and did everything in your power to reduce risks. The same is with the laser regulations, if you want to avoid a claim you need to know what you can and can't do with them, after all if you did blind somebody your PLI wouldn't cover you if you were found to have been doing something unsafe, ignorance is no defence in law.

 

On the "What's the point in having a light if you cant point it at the dance floor" issue, think of it this way, just because you can buy a pellet gun, you can't go shooting people with it. If you do you will get prosecuted for the injuries caused. You need to use it sensibly and safely.

 

Jim

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ignorance is no defence in law

 

or in business you'd think, but sadly, there are still a number whose philosophy is to treat their customers like rats in a sewer- my comments in another thread!

 

Here's some general tips to consider next time you are looking to buy a new light.

Don't stand behind the effect when demonstrated, position yourself in front and a little away if possible, to see what the light effect does and looks like from the perspective of the client standing and seated! What's the effect like? Wow or foul?

 

If you had to perform in a venue with a low ceiling, could you set-up the light effect which usually performs / looks better when pointed towards the floor? What does it look like pointed towards a wall or ceiling?

 

If you were to perform in a venue with dark walls and ceiling, what would the effect look like?

 

Where possible, always try before you buy. smile icon

 

 

 

 

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The HSG95 (on which the majority of licensing authorities base their venue license requirements for lasers) has recently been made available to download for free after a decade of charging for it.

 

I suggest you read a copy and get a sense of what it's talking about. It could do with updating really as a lot of the language is in relation to larger gas lasers, but it is equally applicable now.

 

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg95.pdf

Edited by norty303

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