Division Title

Laser Safety

Laser Safety Program

Over time, the applications for lasers in biomedical research and in clinical treatments have grown exponentially. This spectrum is on display at NIH, with lasers in use from external linkoptical imaging, where super-resolution microscopy can pinpoint single molecules, to external linklaser therapies of the eye, where laser treatments may help reduce the probability of vision loss in some patients.


As the number of novel techniques involving lasers grows, so too does the number of personnel who work directly with or around lasers; the majority of institutes at NIH use lasers. Full realization of the benefits of lasers necessitates their safe use by everyone.


The external linkNIH Policy Manual 3036: NIH Laser Safety Program provides guidance and oversight for the safe use of Class 3B and Class 4 lasers and laser systems at the NIH.


Depending on the hazard class, set-up, and use of laser(s), the following may be required:

  • Posting of signs;
  • Biennial training;
  • Annual safety survey;
  • Development and annual update of a laser safety Standard Operating Procedure (SOP); and
  • Other applicable laser control measures.

The NIH has a Laser Safety Officer (LSO), Deputy Laser Safety Officer (DLSO), and a

Laser Safety Advisory Committee (LSAC) who are actively engaged in promoting laser safety at NIH.

For questions or assistance, please call DOHS at (301) 496-2960 or email lasersafety@nih.gov

NIH Laser Users Responsibilities

Users of Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers and laser systems must:     

  • Register all new lasers at time of purchase
  • Create and annually update a laser safety SOP
  • Complete laser safety training biennially
  • Post an appropriate laser controlled area (LCA) warning sign
    • Areas containing Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers must post LCA warning signs with specific information. The templates below are designed for NIH personnel to modify the information appropriately and print for posting on all entry doors to an LCA.

Examples of the DANGER and WARNING LCA warning signs and their use description.  

pdf documentClass 4 LCA DANGER Sign                                                              pdf documentClass 4 LCA WARNING Sign

                                                                                                                pdf document Class 3B LCA WARNING Sign


Examples of the NOTICE and CAUTION LCA warning signs and their use description.  

pdf documentTemporary NOTICE Sign                                                                pdf documentLow Hazard Class CAUTION Sign


The LSO and DLSO manage an internal NIH listserv for laser users. In addition to serving as a convenient method to share laser safety information, it can also be used by subscribers to highlight research breakthroughs involving laser use, offer-up unused laser equipment, or educate one another on lesser-known laser applications.


To subscribe, visit external linkhttps://list.nih.gov/ and search for the name of the listserv: LASER-IN-USE. To contact the list owner, email LASER-IN-USE-request@LIST.NIH.GOV.

Laser Safety Application

Coming Soon!


The LSO and DLSO manage an inventory of lasers at NIH using an online application. The application is currently undergoing testing; after the application has been finalized, an individual from each group of laser users will be granted access to manage their group's laser inventory and program requirements.




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