About Laser Safety Facts

In the last century, only experts used powerful, dangerous lasers. They took Laser Safety Officer courses to understand label information such as a laser’s “class” and to be able to determine its hazards based on the power output, wavelength and divergence.

But now anyone can buy and use multi-watt lasers. There have been some eye injury cases from higher-powered lasers. More worrisome, the public is pointing lasers at aircraft, distracting and flashblinding pilots. This happens about 9 times a night in the U.S. alone.

In this new era of powerful consumer lasers, it is much more urgent to inform consumers in clear, concise language, about their lasers' specific hazards. The Laser Safety Facts label and website is intended to:
  • Help reduce eye injuries and
  • Help lower the rate of aviation lasings
There are three independent parts to the Laser Safety Facts concept. Each part can stand on its own. Together, they form an easy-to-use and comprehensive information resource about consumer visible-beam lasers.

  1. A Laser Safety Facts label, designed for laser marketing materials and packages. It can also be permanently affixed to larger laser products such as projectors. It includes a QR code and website URL address, so consumers can find detailed information quickly.
  2. Adding a QR or Data Matrix code, and/or a short website URL address to currently-required product labels. This is intended to be permanently affixed to smaller products such as laser pointers. The QR or DM code and the URL become the source for detailed information that cannot fit onto the product. (If a laser is so small that a QR or DM code is not practical, then printing the URL address is sufficient.)
  3. This website, www.LaserSafetyFacts.com. The two labels above link to pages at this website that detail the hazards of the laser. The website also contains other laser safety information and links.

Note that in addition to the main domain LaserSafetyFacts.com, we also use two other domain names which redirect to the same webpages: LSF.me and LaserSafety.info. Each is best for a certain purpose. All three domains go to the same webpages so they are functionally equivalent.

The Laser Safety Facts label is designed to inform consumers and the general public about the specific hazards of a given laser. The idea is modeled on the Nutrition Labels and Drug Labels required in the U.S. and some other countries.

The current version is for visible lasers only, as these are the most popular with consumers. Below is a sample, with explanations of its main features.

At the top is the safety label area. This includes any labeling required by government standards such as U.S. FDA. We are showing here the IEC 60825 label format.

Next is the optional laser name and the required description. This includes the laser type (diode, gas, etc.) and a descriptive phrase such as "Laser Pointer", "Handheld Laser" "Laser Projector", etc.

Below the description are the laser parameters. These parameters are important to determine the hazard. Note that the minimum divergence is listed; this was not previously required on a safety label.

Next comes a QR Code. Scanning this code with a smartphone or tablet will take a person to this website (www.LaserSafetyFacts.com). The QR code also encodes either the laser's general hazard Class or it the specific key parameters such as power, wavelength, etc. The user lands on a web page describing either the general information for the Class, or with specific hazard distances based on the key parameters.
.....Here is an example of a Class 2 landing page, and here is an example of landing on a page with the exact hazards of a specific laser.

The "Laser hazards" section lists the major hazards, such as eye and skin injury. For minor hazards, it may briefly discuss the hazard but does not have to give details (For example, "Avoid staring at the bright dot scattered from a surface" instead of saying "Eye hazard if stared at for longer than 10 seconds at a distance of 4 inches.")

The "Safe use guidance" section is for proactive safety information. It begins with general advice based on the laser's Class. Additional sections are added, if necessary, based on the power or type of laser. For example, this Class 4 label has Optical Density information for eyewear. Because this is for a laser projector, there also is information about the hazards of deliberately scanning the audience.

The last part of the "Safe use guidance" section is always a written link to this website. This is useful if a person does not have a QR code scanner. The web address encodes the laser's parameters. The user can enter information one time, rather than having to fill out different boxes for power, divergence, wavelength, etc.

At the bottom of the Laser Safety Facts label is an optional "Manufacturer" section. It contains the manufacturer name, country of origin (or export), and an optional website or other contact information for the manufacturer. It also contains a description of who certified the Laser Parameters on the label. For example, was this self-certification by the manufacturer, or an established testing house such as UL? In the latter case, there is an identifying number linking to the test or report. (This helps avoid cases where a manufacturer claims UL testing without actually having done so.)

SCOPE: The Laser Safety Facts label is voluntary for manufacturers and those marketing and selling visible-beam lasers for the general public. It is hoped that over time the label may become recommended or required by standards bodies (IEC, ANSI) and governmental agencies.

PLACEMENT: The entire Laser Safety Facts label could be permanently placed on the laser. This is recommended for large and powerful laser devices such as Class 3B or 4 laser projectors. However, for most lasers the label is intended to be in one or more of the following places:
  • On outer (retail) packaging. Consumers can see this at the point of purchase
  • On marketing material such as a website or brochure. Again, this allows consumers to see this information before purchase.
  • As a temporary label on the device (if the device is large enough) or a "hang tag" on the device. This is similar to an EnergyGuide sticker on appliances, or the pricing information on a new car's window. It can be read at time of purchase, and can later be removed.
  • As information in the user manual.

The type should be 7 points or larger. If the black bars on the sample labels are 2.5" wide, the type is approximately 7 points in size. This ensures that the text is readable, and that the QR code is sized for reliable scanning.

ONLINE LINKS TO LABEL: Manufacturers and online sellers can put links to the Laser Safety Facts label on their website. There is a standard icon for the link. The icon is shown below, in two different sizes and in a version for dark backgrounds. Click on any of the icons for a large size, 750-pixel wide version suitable for making your own sizes.
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This icon would be put on a webpage, near a particular consumer laser product. Clicking on the icon goes to the Laser Safety Facts label for that product. By using the same standardized icon for all laser-selling websites, there is consistency for the potential buyer. They always know how to find the Laser Safety Facts information.

The same concept is in the EnergyGuide and Lighting Facts labeling programs. They require use of a standardized web icon when linking with the full label. (See this PDF for more information, fourth row from the bottom.)
For small lasers with no room for the full Laser Safety Label, versions are available with basic safety information, plus a QR or Data Matrix code. Scanning the code leads to a webpage with information about the hazards for that class of laser.

There are two main versions of the small product label. One is intended for laser pointers and other portable lasers that could possibly be aimed at aircraft. Here is a sample for Class 3R lasers:
The second version of the product label is intended for lasers that are not likely to be used outdoors or otherwise aimed at aircraft. It does not contain the warning about aiming at aircraft. Here is a sample for Class 3R lasers:
Other configurations of product labels are available, which may fit a certain product better. You could also create your own, as long as you have all required elements. For sample labels which are "ready to go", see the following pages: Class 2 labels, Class 3R labels, Class 3B labels, Class 4 labels.

Some lasers may be so small that even a tiny QR or DM code will not fit, or cannot be be read by cellphones. In this case, simply print a URL that the user can type in to get information. We have a special URL for this: LaserSafety.info. Printing a short phrase such as "Visit LaserSafety.info/3R" makes it clear what the website is for (laser safety info!).

Manufacturers may already have a stock of laser labels. In such a case, just add the QR or DM code and a phrase (on a separate label) to let people know to scan the code or visit a website for safe use information. The sample labels on this website have various wordings; for example, "Scan QR Code or visit LaserSafety.info/3R."
As stated above, if there isn't even room for a QR or DM code, add a label with a short phrase such as "Visit LaserSafety.info/3R".
The third, independent component of the Laser Safety Label concept is this website. It gives laser owners and users additional details that cannot fit onto a label. It is this linkage that makes the Laser Safety Facts concept so useful -- especially for more complex products such as multi-beam laser projectors.

For example, an installer or inspector can scan a laser projector's QR code, or enter a web address specifically for that projector. They then will find complete safe use information -- even years after the projector was purchased and the manual was thrown away.
A laser user can scan the label's QR code with a smartphone or tablet, or they can type in the listed URL. The user then "lands" on a webpage which gives more information about their laser. There are three types of landing pages.

A label may encode only the laser's Class. The user is taken to a page that describes the general hazards of that laser Class. An example for Class 3B is here.

The encoding is done by adding the laser Class to the end of the domain name (either LaserSafetyFacts.com, LaserSafety.info, or LSF.me -- all three go to the same place). For example, LaserSafetyFacts.com/2 goes to information about Class 2 lasers, while LaserSafetyFacts.com/3R goes to information about Class 3R lasers.

For Class 4 lasers of up to 2 watts with 1 mrad divergence, use the existing page LaserSafetyFacts.com/4. For more powerful lasers, or lasers with tighter beams, see below about custom Class 4 pages.

We can create a page especially for a laser with a specific power, wavelength, divergence, etc. The safety information is thus customized for that laser. An example for a full-color RGB laser projector is here.

For single-wavelength visible Class 4 lasers above 2 watts, there are two types of pages:

2-digit pages -- These are for visible lasers of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 watts, single-wavelength, with a minimum beam divergence of 1 milliradian or larger. The pages are "LaserSafetyFacts.com/41", "LaserSafetyFacts.com/42", etc. up to "/45". As of July 2014, these pages have not yet been created. If you need them, please contact us.

5-digit pages -- The are for visible lasers from 1 to 99 watts, single-wavelength, with a custom divergence. The pages are named as follows: "LaserSafetyFacts.com/4XXYY", where "XX" is the maximum power in watts (from 01 to 99 watts) and "YY" is the minimum divergence in milliradians x 10 (e.g., 10 = 1 mrad, 15 = 1.5 mrad, 20 = 2 mrad, etc.). For example, "LaserSafetyFacts.com/40305" is for a 3 watt, 0.5 mrad laser. To see if such a page already exists, enter the URL. If it does not exist, contact us and we will create the custom page.

The most advanced method is to create a label that encodes the laser's exact parameters. These will be communicated via the QR code or the "EZ Code" described below. The website will decode the parameters and uses Javascript code on the webpage to insert key hazard information such as the NOHD and aviation visual interference distances.

Encoding the exact parameters may be more appropriate for higher-power Class 3B and for Class 4 lasers. This is because the hazard distances within these classes can vary substantially.

Note: As of July 2014, the Javascript for handling EZ Codes and URL-encoded parameters is not working. The text below is therefore grayed out until this is added. In the meantime, if you need a page for a specific laser, please contact us directly.
Example of encoding specific laser parameters

Here is a simple example of a Class 3B 125 milliwatt green (532 nm) laser pointer with a 1 milliradian divergence, continuous wave. The code is PT_532-125_10_CW_3B. "PT" denotes that the product is a laser pointer. Underscores are used as separators between main elements. A hyphen is used to separate wavelength from power in milliwatts. Note that the divergence is multiplied by 10.
QR code: The QR code, using the shortener domain LSF.ME, would be: "HTTP://LSF.ME/PT_532-125_10_CW_3B". Javascript software on the webpage will decode all characters after the last slash (/). This enables calculations to be done so the final webpage has hazard distances based on this exact laser. Text is also added based on characteristics such as the laser being a pointer, or a projector. [Note: The Javascript is not yet working so at this time the address would need to be hard-coded in advance by LaserSafetyFacts.com]
URL version: If the person instead types in the main URL of the website (www.LaserSafetyFacts.com), at the home page they are prompted for the "EZ Code" printed on the label. This is the same as the encoding (i.e., PT_532-125_10_CW_3B).
Here is a more complex example of a Class 4 RGB laser projector with three wavelengths, each having a different power, and divergence of 1.5 mrad. The code is PR_638-900-532-700-445-500_15_CW_4. "PR" denotes that the product is a laser projector. This allows the webpage to add additional information about safe audience scanning, government laser show requirements, etc.
QR code: The QR code would be: "HTTP://LSF.ME/PR_638-900-532-700-445-500_15_CW_4".
URL version: If the person types in the main URL of the website (www.LaserSafetyFacts.com), at the home page they are prompted for the "EZ Code" which is PPR_638-900-532-700-445-500_15_CW_4. While this is a lot to type, it is easier to enter one long string, rather than entering data in 10 different fields.
[Note: The exact coding method and characters are under development and may change. Sample labels may use earlier encodings that are different from those described here, or from the final version.]
In addition to laser-specific hazards, LaserSafetyFacts.com also has links to additional resources.
We have registered three domains for Laser Safety Facts-related URL addresses. The primary domain is LaserSafetyFacts.com; all the webpages are hosted at this URL address. The other two domains automatically redirect to the primary domain's webpages without the user even noticing. This means that URLs such as "LaserSafetyFacts.com/40305", "LaserSafety.info/40305" and "LSF.me/40305" all go to the same webpage.
  • The domain "LSF.me" is used to shorten the URL address that is encoded into QR and DM codes. A shorter URL makes the individual blocks in the QR or DM code larger (relative to encoding a longer URL). It then is easier for a smartphone to read the larger blocks.
  • The domain "LaserSafety.info" is intended for human-readable use on the labels affixed to lasers. A short phrase such as "Visit LaserSafety.info/3B" indicates that this is a website address where laser safety information can be found. It is especially useful if there is no room on the laser for a QR or DM code, so that printing a URL is the only way the user can find additional laser safety information.