Safety Services


UCL Artificial Optical Radiation (AOR) Safety Standard

This standard applies to staff, visiting academics and others who may be affected by UCL’s use of Artificial Optical Radiation (AOR).


Sources of Artificial Optical Radiation (AOR) are those which are artificially created by human activity and can be divided further into two broad categories:

  • Lasers (coherent).
  • Broadband optical sources (non-coherent).

This Standard applies to staff, visiting academics and others who may be affected by UCL’s use of AOR.

Examples of hazardous sources of AOR that this Standard applies to:

  • Welding (both arc and oxy-fuel) and plasma cutting.
  • UV fluorescence and sterilisation systems. 
  • Furnaces. 
  • UV curing of ink and paints. 
  • All use of Class 3B and Class 4 lasers, as defined in British Standard BS EN 60825-1: 2007.
  • Any Risk Group 3 lamp or lamp system (including LEDs), as defined in British Standard BS EN 62471: 2008, for example search lights, professional projections systems.

Examples of sources of AOR that are safe and where this Standard does not apply:

  • All forms of ceiling-mounted lighting used in offices etc that have diffusers over bulbs or lamps. 
  • All forms of task lighting including desk lamps and tungsten-halogen lamps fitted with appropriate glass filters to remove unwanted ultraviolet light. 
  • Photocopiers and computers or similar display equipment.
  • Gas-fired overhead heaters. 
  • Exempt or Risk Group 1 lamp or lamp system (including LEDs), as defined in British Standard BS EN 62471: 2008. 
  • Any Class 1 laser light product, as defined in British Standard BS EN 60825-1: 2007, for example laser printers and bar code scanners.

The above list is not exhaustive. If you are unsure whether the sources you have are hazardous consult the supplier or email the Laser Protection Officers for further guidance.

Legal requirements

The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 (AOR10) requires that UCL:

  • Assesses the risks posed to staff and others by exposure to AOR and, where there is risk of adverse health effects to the eyes and skin, eliminate that risk or implement controls so it is reduced to a level as low as reasonably practicable.

AOR10 applies to both lasers and broadband optical sources and utilises a set of Exposure Limit Values (ELVs). Exposure below these ELVs will not cause harm to people. 

> ELVs for Laser radiation
> ELVs for non-coherent optical radiation


  • Artificial Optical Radiation: Any electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range between 100nm and 1mm which is emitted by non-natural sources.
  • Laser: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation: Any device which can be made to produce or amplify electromagnetic radiation in the optical radiation wavelength range primarily by the process of controlled stimulated emission.
  • Non-coherent Radiation: Any artificial optical radiation other than laser radiation.
  • Exposure Limit Values: Limits on exposure to optical radiation which are based directly on established health effects and biological considerations. Compliance with these limits will ensure that workers exposed to artificial sources of optical radiation are protected against all known adverse health effects.
  • Irradiance: The radiant power incident per unit upon a surface expressed in watts per square metre (W m-2)
  • Radiant Exposure: The radiant energy incident per unit area upon a surface expressed in Joules per square metre (J m-2).
  • Radiance: The radiant flux or power output per unit solid angle per unit area, expressed in watts per square metre per steradian (W m-2 sr-1).


Head of Department

The HoD is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the requirements of this Standard are implemented and managed within their departments.
  • Where the department keeps and uses Class 3 and above lasers (as defined in BS EN 60825-1) or any Risk Group 3 lamp or lamp system (as defined in BS EN BS EN 62471: 2008), appoint in writing one or more suitable persons to act as Laser Safety Officer (LSOs) and ensuring their names are listed on the Responsible Persons Register. 
  • Ensuring appointed LSOs have the time, resources and authority to carry out their role effectively.
    UCL Laser Protection Officer (LPO)

    The university Laser Protection Officers (LPOs) are part of Safety Services. 

    The LPO is responsible for:

    • Monitoring compliance with this Standard.
    • Creating and maintaining a list of identified AOR equipment at UCL.
    • Acting as a point of contact for seeking appropriate advice from a certified external Laser Protection Adviser (LPA).
    • Ensuring regular liaison is maintained between the Laser Safety Officers (LSO) and the LPO, including arranging LSO forums.   
    • Address any non-compliances raised by the LSOs and escalate significant issues to the UCL Work Health & Safety Committee.
    • Liaise with enforcing authorities.
    • Providing advice on specification, installation and any modification of AOR facilities.
    Laser Safety Officer (LSO)

    The role of the LSO is to act as the local competent person within their department and should provide advice and guidance to PIs and other staff regarding how to comply with this Standard.

    The LSO must:

    • In consultation with the local departmental safety committee, ensure there are written departmental arrangements and processes in place to ensure compliance with this Standard, including: 
      • Acquisition and disposal of AOR equipment. 
      • Training, instruction, information and supervision of staff whose work could expose them to harmful levels of AOR. 
      • Consultation of the LPO on the specification, installation and any modification of AOR facilities. 
      • Laser risk assessments and Schemes of Work are written, approved and reviewed in line with this Standard. 
      • Records are made in line with this Standard.
    • Maintain an up-to-date inventory of all AOR equipment held within the department and report new acquisitions or disposals to the LPO.
    • Inform the PI in management control of the work of any non-compliances with this Standard. If the PI fails to take action in a reasonable period of time, escalate the matter to the Head of Department. 
    • Report to the local departmental safety committee on AOR safety matters, including any identified non-compliances with this Standard. 
    • Carry out assurance activity as outlined in this Standard.
    External Laser Protection Adviser

    The Laser Protection Adviser (LPA) is a suitably experienced and qualified individual who will support the LPO and appointed LSOs when required:

    • Provide safety advice either through correspondence or by attending the university.
    • Carry out audits of AOR facilities as requested by the LPO.
    • Attend safety committee meetings as requested by the LPO.
    Principal Investigators/Line Managers/Academic Supervisors

    Responsible for ensuring the requirements of this Standard are implemented for the work and area they are in management control of. They must ensure: 

    • AOR equipment is not acquired without permission from the local LSO.  
    • Prior to placing an order ensure that lasers conform to British Standard BS EN 60825-1 and lamps conform to BS EN 62471:2008.
    • Risk assessments and Schemes of Work are produced and reviewed as described in this Standard.
    • Staff whose work could potentially expose them to harmful levels of AOR receive appropriate training, induction, and supervision and records of this training are retained in the department in line with UCL's Retention Schedule.
    • AOR equipment is only operated by authorised staff in an appropriately prepared facility that has been inspected and approved by the LPO.
    • AOR equipment is subject to regular maintenance in line with the manufacturer's requirements and/or the risk assessment.
    • The facilities where the equipment is used are maintained in good repair with all safety features, controls and warning signs fully operational.
    • Any personal protective eyewear or equipment required for the safe use of AOR sources is provided, worn, maintained and stored as advised by the supplier. 
    • All safety features, warning signs, controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) are regularly inspected and tested to ensure they remain in good repair and records of this retained in the department.  
    • Defects with the equipment, facilities or safety features are reported to the LSO and work is suspended immediately and not re-started until appropriate repairs have been completed by a competent person, and approved by the LSO and LPO. 
    • Appropriate contingency plans are in place for all reasonably foreseeable incidents. 
    • All records are made and kept in line with this Standard
    • Where non-compliance with this Standard is identified, work with key individuals, the LSO and LPO, to address these shortfalls.

    Approved AOR Users must:

    • Complete training and induction as described in this Standard.
    • Read, sign and comply with the requirements of the AOR Schemes of Work.
    • Only use AOR equipment in facilities designed for the use of that equipment.
    • Only use AOR equipment they are trained and authorised to use.
    • Read and understand the risk assessment for the work.
    • Wear any PPE specified in the risk assessment at all times.
    • Report any identified defects in the equipment, facilities or PPE to the appointed LSO immediately.

    Risk assessments for AOR sources

    Risk assessments must be completed at a local level by those individuals working with the AOR sources or by those responsible for the supervision of the work. Risk assessments must be completed for all activities involving the AOR source.

    The risk assessment must consider:

    • Wavelength and duration of exposure.
    • The levels (irradiance, radiant exposure, radiance) of AOR to which staff are likely to be exposed to (through measurement or calculation if necessary).
    • The Exposure Limit Values (ELVs) and whether staff could be exposed to levels of AOR that exceed the ELVs.
    • The effects of exposure on employees or groups of employees whose health is at risk from exposure. 
    • Possible effects on the health and safety of employees resulting from interactions between AOR and photosensitising chemicals.
    • The indirect effects of exposure such as temporary blinding, explosion or fire. 
    • Non-beam hazards (e.g electrical, chemical, fume).
    • The availability of equipment designed to reduce levels of exposure.

    The risk assessment must be recorded on riskNET.  For class 3R, 3B, and Class 4 lasers, a specialist risk assessment template on riskNET must be used for recording the assessment. For all other AOR sources, the general risk assessment template on riskNET can be used but the risk assessment must consider all points above. AOR risk assessments must also meet all requirements of the UCL Risk Assessment Standard.

    The PI in management control of the work and the LSO will be responsible for approving the assessment.

    For any work where staff could be exposed to levels of AOR which exceed the ELVs, then the risk assessment must contain a clear justification explaining why the work is being carried out in such a way. Justifications are required in all cases where there are Class 3B and Class 4 laser open beam paths, regardless of length.

    Where staff could be exposed to levels of AOR that exceed the ELVs or there are Class 3B and Class 4 laser open beam paths, then the risk assessment must be sent to the LPO for review and approval. 

    Implementation of control measures

    If the risk assessment shows that staff could be exposed to levels of AOR that exceed the ELV, then the hierarchy of risk control must be used to eliminate or minimise the risk to negligible levels.

    If, after the implementation of the control measures, staff could be exposed to levels of AOR that exceed the ELV then the affected area must be: 

    New or modified facilities

    Advice must be sought from the LPO at the planning/design stage of new or modified facilities where Class 3B or Class 4 lasers are to be used.

    The LPO will assess the new or modified facility against the requirements of the relevant legislation, standards and guidance and recommend improvements where necessary.  These improvements must be addressed before work with lasers begins or recommences.

    Modified facilities are existing facilities that have been modified in such a way as to affect the existing engineering and administrative control measures. 

    Schemes of Work

    Schemes of Work are written procedures based on the outcome of the risk assessment and state how the risks to staff and students from hazardous AOR sources will be managed. They should be in place for all activities with the AOR source.

    Schemes of Work must: 

    • Describe the safe procedures, the use of control measures identified in the risk assessment, and the contingency plans for reasonably foreseeable incidents.
    • Be relevant to the area where the AOR source is used.  
    • Reviewed periodically, when there is a significant change to work, or when there is any other reason to suspect they are not valid (such as after an incident).   

    AOR safety training, instruction and information and supervision

    Users and those who are responsible for areas where hazardous AOR is used must have attended and successfully completed the relevant AOR safety training course. This will cover:

    • The hazards posed by the sources of AOR in the workplace including biological effects and non-beam hazards.
    • An introduction to the legislative requirements and how UCL manages AOR safety.
    • Content of risk assessments and the implementation of control measures.
    • Dealing with incidents involving AOR sources.

    For Class 3R, 3B and Class 4 lasers the appropriate training course is the UCL Laser Safety Awareness training course

    After successful completion of the required training, users must receive a local induction which includes: 

    • The local departmental arrangements for AOR safety.  
    • The specific hazards and the nature of the risks from the AOR hazard. This must include the ELV if it can be exceeded.
    • Any other non-beam hazards and the nature of the risk.
    • Any safety checks that must be completed and how these are recorded.  
    • Safe working procedures.
    • Contingency plans for reasonably foreseeable incidents.
    • Practical instruction on how to use the equipment.

    The local induction must be provided by the Principal Investigator (PI) or a competent person nominated by the PI.

    A record of the local induction must be kept, including the topics that were covered. 

    New users must be directly supervised until judged to be competent to work independently by the line manager, PI or academic supervisor. The laser user must acknowledge that they feel confident using lasers.

    Laser Safety Officers

    • LSOs must successfully complete the UCL Laser Safety Officer training course provided by Safety Services.
    • LSO should attend the LSO Forums run by Safety Services, which will include organisational policy updates. 

    Refresher training

    AOR safety training should be refreshed every 5 years or when there are changes to legislation or the university’s AOR safety framework. LSOs should provide updates to authorised AOR users when there has been a change in policy or procedures that will affect their work.


    UCL is required to monitor its AOR safety arrangements to: 

    • Check whether this Standard is being implemented.
    • Procedures are appropriate and effectively applied.
    • Non-compliances are promptly identified and addressed in a timely manner.

    The outcome of AOR safety monitoring is reported to the University Management Committee via monthly reports and to LSOs during the LSO Forum. 

    The following assurance regime is applied. 

    • LSO:  On an annual basis must review departmental arrangements for the management of AOR safety, including practical implementation of control measures. This should include ensuring: 
      • The AOR inventory is up-to-date.
      • The departmental arrangements and processes in place for the management of AOR safety are up-to-date and in line with this Standard.
      • There are valid risk assessments and Schemes of Work in place for all activities.
      • Training and induction records are present and up-to-date.
      • Equipment, PPE and associated records are present and complete.
      • Control measures and arrangements are being correctly implemented. 

    •    LPO:  The LPOs will conduct audits and inspections at departments using AOR equipment to check compliance with this Standard.


    • The Scheme of Work for each area must detail the steps that should be taken in the event of a foreseeable incident involving hazardous sources of AOR.
    • In the case of a known or suspected eye strike from a laser beam (either direct, reflected or scattered with the ability to cause injury, including all Class 3B laser and Class 4 laser), the affected individual must be assessed by a trained ophthalmologist at a hospital as soon as possible and within 24 hours of the injury being sustained. 
    • All incidents (including near misses and hazard observations) must be reported using riskNET.
    • The LSOs must be notified of any incidents.
    • The LSO will investigate all incidents to determine the cause and report to the LPO. 

    Record keeping

    Records must be made and kept in a format that is clear, legible, and permanent.  All records must be easily accessible for inspection.

    The following records must be retained in line with UCL's Retention Schedule.

    • Training and induction.
    • Checks of PPE.
    • Checks of safety features and controls.
    • Maintenance and servicing records.
    • Departmental assurance activities, including inspections.

    Last updated: Thursday, March 2, 2023