Laser (or light application by stimulated emission of radiation) is different from other sources of non-ionising radiation in both the mechanism of operation and the quality of radiation produced. 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.

Laboratory registration
Laser registration
Guidelines on the use of laser pointers

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 for a measurement test, free of charge at

Confocal Microscopes

Laser scanning confocal microscopes are Class 1 laser systems that contain embedded Class 3 or Class 4 lasers. When the confocal microscope is used as intended, no control measures are necessary. 

For alignment , maintenance or service activities, the protective housing shall be removed only by a certified, professional technician. The local manager/custodian must ensure a temporary laser-controlled area is set up for these activities to avoid unnecessary exposure of the general public to the laser beam.

There is no registration or approval requirements for confocal microscopes.