Aligning Laser Beams

It is estimated that greater than 70 percent of laser injuries occur during laser alignments. Causes of these injuries include:

  • Removing eyewear to see the beam better.
  • Inappropriate eyewear being worn.
  • Reflective objects present during alignment.
  • Reflective jewelry being worn by the user.
  • Aligning at high-power levels.
  • Not following (or not having) alignment procedures.

Safe laser alignment can be accomplished by:

  • Never removing eyewear during an alignment. If the eyewear completely blocks the beam, or if the beam is invisible, use alignment tools to accomplish the task.
  • Remove reflective objects from the table. This includes any jewelry. What seems dull to us, may actually be a very reflective surface for a laser beam.
  • Align at the lowest power possible or use a low power alignment laser. If you can adjust the power down (as close to the 3B limit of 5 mW as possible), the chance of injury will be greatly reduced.
  • Follow alignment SOPs. Alignment SOPs are required for Class 4 lasers and are highly recommended for Class 3B lasers. These SOPs should include the appropriate eyewear to be worn during the alignment. For more, review the Laser Alignment Procedures.