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Artificial optical radiation safety

The artificial optical radiation (AOR) standard applies to activities using UV, IR and visible light sources that are not lasers as part of the University business that present a significant risk to health and safety. It forms part of the University's Health and Safety PolicyHealth and Safety PolicyHealth and Safety Policy for controlling health and safety risks arising from AOR sources and compliance with the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010. The regulations require the University to protect the eyes and skin of employees and others from exposure to AOR by eliminating the risk, or reducing the risk to low a level as is reasonably practicable.

The standard and its implementation in the University will be periodically audited as part of the University’s health and safety management system. Other University health and safety standards that may apply:

Roles and responsibilities

In accordance with the Health and Safety Policy, staff and students are required to comply with the AOR standard.

Managers, principal investigators and academic supervisors will be referred to as responsible persons in this standard. Refer to non-ionising radiationnon-ionising radiationnon-ionising radiation for general roles and responsibilities.

Risk assessment

The responsible person must ensure a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is undertaken for the AOR work before it starts and it should be reviewed periodically and updated as the nature of the work changes. The risk assessment outcomes should be communicated to the people at risk. The Association of University Radiation Protection Officers (AURPO) provides guidance notes on use of non-ionising radiations in research and teaching (.pdf) (Essex users only).

An adequate risk assessment will cover the lifecycle of the work:

  • source installation
  • normal operations, including testing
  • maintenance and servicing
  • emergency and unforeseen circumstance
  • relocation and transportation
  • decommissioning
  • disposal

If your risk assessment indicates that there is a risk of adverse health effects to the skin as a result of exposure to artificial optical radiation you will need to contact Occupational Health and ensure at risk people are placed under suitable health surveillance.  

Guidance for Employers on the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations (AOR) 2010 – for information on hazardous sources

Registration and records for AOR users

The responsible person will identify potential AOR users in the risk assessment and ensure they are registered with the department. All people intending to work with any high risk sources should be registered. A laser user registration form is available in the guidance on the safe use of lasers in education and research (.pdf), appendix 2, which can be modified for AOR users.

The department will maintain an up to date record of departmental AOR users and have it available to the UNIRPA. The laser user register and training record template (.xlsx) can be modified for AOR users.

The majority of light sources are safe, but you need to identify staff whose health is at particular risk. For example, pre-existing medical conditions made worse by light, use chemicals that could react with light to make effects worse and multiple exposure to light sources.

Training

The head of department should ensure appropriate training arrangements are in place for all AOR users and others who may be affected by the work. It is the responsibility of the responsible person to ensure AOR users receive appropriate training before work starts.

The basic training should cover the AOR hazard, the possible harm to skin and eyes and the risk controls in place to protect AOR users, including emergency procedures and, where appropriate, the need for health surveillance. The responsible person ensures appropriate refresher training is given at regular intervals to AOR users and when there are significant changes in the risk assessment. Additional training specific to the work process and source should supplement the basic training when necessary.

Other people at risk not directly associated with the work, but could be affected by the source (for example cleaners, maintenance users, serving contractors, other University staff etc.) identified in the risk assessment require training that covers their risk of exposure. Again, the training should identify the AOR hazards, the potential harm and risk controls in place to protect them whilst carrying out their work.

The department will maintain an up-to-date training record for departmental AOR users and have it available to the UNIRPA. A record of attendance should be made and a training record template is available in AURPO’s guidance on the safe use of lasers in education and research, appendix 13, and a laser user register and training record template (.xlx), both of which can be modified for AOR users.

Emergency procedure, over exposure and incident reporting

If you believe your eyes and skin may have been over exposed to AOR you should seek medical assistance immediately. You should know your emergency details because they are part of the departmental controls. Health and safety incidents should be reported as soon as possible to the DNIRPA and the UNIRPA using the University's health and safety incident reporting procedure and formshealth and safety incident reporting procedure and formshealth and safety incident reporting procedure and forms. Health surveillance advice will be sought from the University's Occupational Health Service when required and follow-up health surveillance as appropriate.

Management of contractors

Servicing and maintenance of AOR sources by external contractors needs to be managed by the department. Advanced planning and communication with the contractor is required from the responsible person and the DNIRPA to ensure adequate risk assessments for proposed work takes place. The contractor must submit a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and method statement to the DNIRPA and responsible person for approval. This should be done in reasonable time before the work commences.

Control measures

The responsible person must ensure the risks from AOR exposure are either eliminated or adequately controlled to below the exposure limit values. The non-binding guide to good practice for implementing directive 2006/25/EC Artificial Optical Radiation (.pdf), annex 1, has more detail on non-coherent radiation exposure limit values and risk control measures. The guidance notes on use of non-ionising radiations in research and teaching (.pdf) (Essex users only) has general safety procedures for high risk AOR sources.

For hazardous sources the following control measures should be considered:

  • alternative working methods that eliminate the AOR source
  • alternative, safer light sources that can achieve the right result
  • filters, screens, remote viewing, curtains, safety interlock and dedicated rooms
  • organise the work to reduce exposure to users skin and eyes and restrict access to essential personnel only
  • issue suitable personal protective equipment
  • relevant safety signs and labels

Identification of AOR sources and equipment inventory

High-risk sources must be identified by the responsible person and recorded on the departmental inventory. Updated copies of the inventory are kept by the department and available to the UNIRPA. The AURPO's guidance notes on the safe use of lasers in education and research (.pdf), appendix 1, has a template, that can be modified for AOR sources.

Labelling of AOR sources

The responsible person should identify high risk sources with the appropriate hazard warning label, according to the risk they present. Guidance is available on what labels are required in the notes on use of non-ionising radiations in research and teaching (.pdf) (Essex users only), section 1.3.8.

Use of AOR sources off University premises

The responsible person must follow the laser safetylaser safetylaser safety procedure for using high risk AOR sources off University premises.

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