Pretoria Centre of the Astronomical Society of Southern
PROPOSED FEEDBACK TO ASSA NATIONAL BODY REGARDING LASER
WORKSHOP DURING 2010 ASSA SYMPOSIUM
Regulation 1302 identifies visible lasers with an output
power over 0.30µW as ‘dangerous goods’ under the HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES
ACT NO. 15 OF 1973
- Importers who import these devices must license the
product at the Department of Health.
- Any person using a laser device with an output power
of more than 5 mW has to register as a Laser Safety Officer (LSO) at
the Department of Health.
- There is a general concern that laser pointers are
used irresponsibly. This may increase the risk that green laser
pointers be ‘overregulated’ by the Dept. of Health.
Delegates agree to the following:
- ASSA members are encouraged to register their
unregistered laser pointers (It is currently free to do so)
- The organisers of events such as star parties,
ScopeX, viewing evenings, etc, will be liable in accordance with the
Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) for any incident
during the event. The organisers therefore have to define the ‘laser
rules’ for the event and act accordingly.
- The organisers have the right to confiscate (store in
safe position) any non-compliant laser pointer used at the event.
- There is no requirement for anyone (except presenting
astronomers) to use a laser pointer with an output of more than 5mW for
- Presenting astronomers (those who do astronomy
presentations to groups of people) may justify the use of stronger
laser pointers. Suggested laser output ranged from 10mW to 50mW. The
delegates agree that 20mW should be suitable for most applications, but
foresee applications for up to 50mW.
- Approved organisations should be identified (eg: ASSA
branches; Universities; SAAO; SANParks; etc) These organisations should
recommend applications for LSO’s.
- The following ‘safe practices’ is a good starting
point when presentations to groups are done:
- Lasers should be used by knowledgeable
astronomers under controlled circumstances:
- Do not point at people, aircraft or animals
- Keep suitable distance from audience
- Warn the audience
- Area should be clean of obstacles
- Avoid pointing to surfaces that can give specular
- Minimise use (do not play)
- Keep away from children
- Do not use mechanisms that keeps the pointer
- The outcome should be posted on the website and
Additional comments from discussions after the workshop:
- There was a notion that ‘approved organisations’
(ASSA; SAAO; Universities; etc) appoint personnel to train users of
green laser pointers in the safe practices.
- Aspiring LSO’s has to pass a laser safety test.
- ASSA should have a LASER safety section (to
communicate with the DoH)