Each and every workplace has its own unique set of challenges, including potential dangers. In industrial workplaces, high-powered lasers are typically used for welding and cutting metal, among other work tasks. These lasers are more dangerous than one may think and can leave workers with serious injuries if not used properly. Because of this, understanding why these high-powered lasers are so dangerous can help protect workers from finding themselves in harm’s way.
What Are Lasers?
While you may think a laser is just a device that shoots out a beam of light, it is actually much more complex. The word laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers produce an intense, highly directional beam of light. Laser systems are used in many different industrial and manufacturing settings, as their incredibly high heat can cut metal and certain types of fabric.
Threats of High-Powered Lasers
The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) – a regulatory bureau within the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – was authorized to standardize the performance safety of all manufactured laser products. All laser products manufactured and entered into commerce after August 2, 1976, must comply with the regulations contained within the Federal Laser Product Performance Standard (FLPPS).
Unfortunately, even with these regulations in place, there is still room for error to occur, as these devices can be highly dangerous. Some of the most common threats that come with operating a laser in an industrial setting include:
The light produced by a high-powered industrial laser is incredibly bright and can damage and cause blindness to the eyes. Eye damage can include burning, distortion of the eye’s shape that can reduce vision, boiling of the eye’s fluids, denaturation or decaying of the proteins in the eye causing blind spots, and internal bleeding.
Improper laser use can cause burns. Repeated or one-time exposure to high-powered laser wavelengths can cause skin damage and burns of varying degrees. If the laser’s energy output is high enough, instantaneous burns are possible, much like those received when touching a hot stovetop.
Many industrial lasers are used for cutting, etching, and ablating, where they work to burn away material. The materials that are burned away are ultimately combusted into toxic gases in the air that can be inhaled by others.
High-powered laser devices have a lot of electricity flowing through them, and electric shock from a live wire or contact with internal electrical equipment can happen if protected covers are not in place on the laser or are defective.
Melting of materials
Lasers can actually melt safety glasses and other such personal protective equipment if they get too hot. While laser safety glasses can prevent or significantly reduce laser injury, when laser power output is high, the energy can melt safety glasses and other plastics.
Why Accidents Involving High-Powered Lasers Happen
Although accidents can and do happen, safety should be an employer’s utmost priority. A poor safety culture occurs when other priorities supersede the safety of those on a jobsite. The pressure to meet production deadlines, complacency of employees, and inadequate training can cause workers to omit certain safety precautions. When negligence in the workplace happens and workers are injured as a result, having the help of an experienced personal injury attorney can aid in your recovery.
Houston Workplace Accident Attorney
Unfortunately, poor workplace safety conditions and employer negligence are all too common. In an economic downtown, businesses are especially focused on monetary gain, and this sometimes comes at the price of worker safety. When a workplace injury occurs, the attorneys at Ramsey Law Group will hold the negligent parties accountable and get you the compensation you need to move forward. If you or someone you know has been injured in a workplace accident, contact Ramsey Law Group today to discuss your claim in a free consultation.