Lasers (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) are different and significantly more hazardous than other sources of optical radiation. Laser beams usually are of a small diameter with low divergence and a high power density. Lasers can either emits radiation continuously or in a single pulse or a series of pulses. The output is either monochromatic or consists of a number of wavelengths. To manage the risks posed by lasers, UNSW formally regulates their use through the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC)

  • The following flowchart will assist you in determining whether your lasers require registration with the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) prior to use.
  • All projects (activities) involving the use of these regulated lasers must have RSC approval prior to use.
  • In addition, all laboratories with regulated lasers and lasers contained within need to be registered with the RSC (see below).
  • The RSC does not require laser Eye Screening before usage of lasers.  



Laser Laboratory Registration

All regulated lasers (see above) and their associated laboratory must be registered with the RSC. This is separate from the Project approval (see below) which outlines specific activities for which regulated lasers are to be used.

  • Apply for Laser Laboratory Registration - log into iRECS to submit your application. You will receive a notification once your application has been assigned to a meeting. Please ensure you submit your application 2 weeks prior to the relevant RSC meeting date. 

For new laser laboratories: the LSO needs to be consulted in the initial planning stages about safety controls and the Management Plan. Please contact 

The registered laboratory must:

  • have a dedicated Laser Safety Supervisor (see below for a list of responsibilities)
  • have a Laboratory Safety Manual/Management Plan that outlines general operating protocols especially for various lasers in the same space.
  • have appropriate signage on the entrance to the laboratory 
  • maintain a record of purchasing, storage and disposal of lasers
  • be inspected by members of the Radiation Safety Committee at least once a year

Please contact us at if you would like to decommission any of your registered lasers or laboratory

Laser Project Approval

Researchers conducting projects involving the use of regulated lasers must apply for RSC approval before starting work. 

It is the responsibility of the Laser Project Supervisor (list of responsibilities are listed below) to ensure all activities involving regulated lasers are approved by the RSC.  

  • Apply for Laser Project Approval - log into iRECS to submit your application. You will receive a notification once your application has been assigned to a meeting. Please ensure you submit your application 2 weeks prior to the relevant RSC meeting date.
Roles & Responsibilities- Project Supervisor, Laser Safety Supervisor, Local Laser Safety Officer

Project Supervisor (PS):

  • The PS is the member of staff responsible for day to day management of a laser activity.
  • This may not necessarily be the laser’s operator but the staff member who has ultimate responsibility of its operation and outcomes of its use, e.g. the principle researcher or group head for the activity.
  • Under no circumstances shall this role be assigned to a student or a non-staff member.
  • Fulfilling the role of or appointing an LSS for each laser facility under their control.
  • The PS is required to have suitable laser safety qualifications to fulfil the duties (see below).
  • The PS is responsible for all activity relating to their lasers, including providing or obtaining resources for safety controls and operator training (UNSW staff and students) in accordance with UNSW RSC requirements.
  • Ensure that all laser safety documentation has been completed, approved, and is up-to-date.
  • Devising, in consultation with the UNSW LSO and implementing all approved safety controls.

Laser Safety Supervisor (LSS):

  • The LSS is either the PS or the PS delegated member responsible for day-to-day management of a laser or laser facility.
  • All activities involving the use of controlled lasers shall have one member of staff designated as the LSS as the single point of responsibility for the day-to-day safety management of that activity.
  • Ensure that the laser-based activity is authorised by the UNSW RSC.
  • Ensure that all laser safety documentation has been completed, approved, and is up-to-date.
  • Devising,in consultation with the UNSW LSO,and implementing all approved safety controls.
  • Under no circumstances shall this role be assigned to a student or a non-staff member.
  • The LSS is required to have suitable laser safety qualifications commensurate with the risk associated with the activity (see below).
  • The LSS is to comply with and ensure all users (UNSW staff and students) of their lasers have appropriate levels of training and are familiar with and work in accordance the approved safety plan.

Local/School Laser Safety Officer:

  • Schools/Divisions who have extensive laser facilities/activities may appoint a LSO to be responsible for ensuring compliance and  implementation of UNSW laser policy over the whole School/Division.
  • Provide technical coordination and oversight of LSSs as required in assigned area.
  • Provide necessary expertise to LSSs to facilitate development of laser project approval documentation for RSC submission.
  • The LSO would be expected to have a greater skillset than a LSS and require less assistance from the UNSW LSO or RSC to complete laser project approval documentation.
  • A local LSO is not mandatory for all areas using lasers.
Laser Training

The table below should be used as a guideline only. Whilst the courses are independent of each other, the level of training for individual's authorised activities should be justified in the laser project approval application to the RSC.

Access Level Authorised Activities  Recommended Training Level


Access to laser lab but not controlled lasers. Must be under direct supervision at all time. Also suitable for general staff entering but not operating lasers. UNSW Laser Safety Awareness 


Access to laser lab & controlled lasers & can provide direct supervision to Trainee.

UNSW Laser Safety for Operator 

*The RSC may recommend completion of the 1-day course to high risk laser operators through assessment of the project application

Laser Safety Supervisor  (LSS)

Provide general supervision & lab induction to lab users & grant access to controlled lasers upon Project Supervisor's recommendation

Laser Safety Supervisor course*

*to be advised

Project Supervisor

Overall authority & responsibility for project personnel’s health & safety and make recommendation to LSS to grant a user appropriate access upon satisfactory completion of training (induction, laser courses, on the job training) Training requirement is dependent on level of involvement in the day-to-day activities of the lasers but will have the ultimate responsibility to personnel's health & safety 



  • This basic training will provide you with knowledge of laser hazards, safety facilities, PPE, policies governing laser use and permit you to work in the lab under supervision.
  • The course does not teach you how to use a laser nor permit you to operate a laser unsupervised.
  • The course is run monthly. To register your interest, please complete our expression of interest form and we will contact you when the next course becomes available.


  • Together with on-the-job training, this course permits you to operate approved lasers without supervision, supervise trainees & non-users requiring access and laser alignment if authorised by the project supervisor. The prerequisite to taking this course is the UNSW Laser Safety Awareness.
  • The course is run monthly. To register your interest, please complete our expression of interest form and we will contact you when the next course becomes available.


  • This training is for people required to implement laser safety programs that include approving risk assessments, perform/authorise maintenance/service & induction of new users.
  • The RSC is exploring training options for this level. Please contact us at if you have any questions.
Laser Pointer Guidelines

A laser pointer means a hand-held battery-operated device, designed or adapted to emit a laser beam, that may be used for the purposes of aiming, targeting or pointing. Despite their small innocuous appearance they can be hazardous to the eye.

Laser classification gives an indication to their degree of hazard:

  • Class 1 lasers are considered to be "eye-safe" under normal operation.
  • Class 2 lasers can cause eye damage although eye protection is normally afforded by the aversion response including the blink reflex.
  • Class 1M and Class 2M lasers are generally not suitable for use as laser pointers and also represent an eye hazard under certain viewing conditions.
  • Class 3A, Class 3R, Class 3B and Class 4 lasers can cause permanent eye damage.
  • Class I, Class II, Class IIA, Class IIIA, Class IIIB and Class IV lasers are NOT classified in accordance with AS/NZS IEC 60825.1:2014

The following policy applied to lasers pointers at UNSW

  • Only laser pointer classified and labelled as Class 1 or Class 2 in accordance with AS/NZS IEC 60825.1:2014 shall be purchased for use at UNSW. These laser pointers have radiated power less than or equal to 1 milliwatt.
  • Although no special permit required for laser pointers of 1 milliwatt or less, it is an offence in NSW to carry or use the laser pointer in a public place without a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse would be an amateur astronomer, teacher, lecturer or builder who has the laser pointer in the possession at a time and place related to that purpose (ie lawful pursuit of that occupation).
  • Laser pointers with a radiated power greater than 1 milliwatt are listed as prohibited weapons which requires a permit from the NSW Firearms Registry. There are also import controls imposed on these lasers.   
  • Laser products exceeding Class 2 MUST NOT be used as laser pointers.
  • Never look directly into the laser beam. Laser pointers should never be pointed directly at a person as permanent eye damage can occur. Do not aim the laser at reflective surfaces.

Power measurements: If you're unsure of your laser pointer's power output, contact us at for advice. 


For UNSW Canberra

Permit applications:


Confocal Microscopes

Proprietary laser scanning confocal microscopes that are classified as Class 1 laser systems often contain embedded Class 3B or Class 4 lasers. When the confocal microscope is used as intended, no additional control measures are necessary. However, to be exempted from RSC registration and approval, any activities that permit access to hazardous laser radiation or degrades the integrity of the protective housing shall only be completed by an external, qualified, manufacturer-authorised service technician. The local manager/custodian must ensure a temporary laser controlled area is set up for these activities to avoid any exposure of UNSW personnel or the general public to laser radiation. It is advisable to liaise with the LSO to confirm exemption and when establishing the laser controlled area.

In-house assembled confocal microscopes or those that are maintained and serviced by UNSW personnel may require registration and approval with the RSC. Please contact us at for advice.

Laser Eye Test

Laser worker pre-employment, routine and end-of-employment ophthalmic eye examinations are not required at UNSW. Eye examinations carried out following an actual or suspected exposure to laser radiation shall be managed per the usual workplace injury reporting process. Refer to HS091 Health Monitoring Guideline for more information.