Project: Striking Laser Displays: The Challenges to Securing Safe Display Laser Use In the Entertainment Industry

Completed but not published

This project was submitted on 30/01/2014

The entertainment industry is always striving for bigger and better special effects to enhance performances. This often results in the use of high powered lasers to create complex laser display’s. For the BBC an incident involving the use of a display laser highlighted laser safety risks because of the increasing use of high powered lasers.
Even at low levels, split second exposure from powerful lasers can cause eye damage (BBC 2010, Stewart, 2010, Makhov 2010, NHMRC, 1995).
The research therefore aimed to advance the understanding of current challenges in laser use and used a mixed method approach to compare and contrast adherence to regulatory regimes (Licensing and Safety) to respondent’s perceptions and understanding of laser safety risks. Responses were received from Regulators, Laser Operators, Venue Managers and Safety Professionals.
Data was collected via the use of stratified sampling of freedom of information requests (FOI’s), surveys and interviews. Study response rates were high with 63.3% (229 out of 358) of FOI’s and 50% (33 out of 66) of questionnaires being returned and included information on the interventions undertaken in pubs and clubs as well as event spaces.
The findings identified a lack of suitable and sufficient risk assessments being completed and a lack of understanding of laser risks. Variations were identified in policy standards and controls being applied across sites, this dilutes operator’s perceptions and understanding of safety risks, hence influencing the quality of risk assessments and the application of suitable controls. The study also identified the immergence of a public safety risk from laser use in pubs and clubs. Overall outcomes highlighted a clear need for improved awareness and emphasis on training those involved with display lasers and the development of fit for purpose laser safety policies, given the potential for an increasingly widespread use of lasers.

Equipment & machinery, Policies, Risk management, Training and education
Entertainment and Leisure

Organisation: Salford University

43 The Crescent,
M5 4WT,
0161 295 5000

Principal Investigator: Sarah Davidson

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Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
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