The EU has issued a Directive to protect workers from hazardous sources of intense light in the workplace. To comply with this Directive, HSE is planning to introduce the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations.

Under the proposals light sources will fall into one of three categories;

• Those that are safe – the vast majority of light sources used in the workplace.

• Very intense light that poses a ‘reasonably foreseeable’ risk of harm to eyes and skin. This group includes, welding arcs and plasma cutting, ultra-violet fluorescence and sterilisation systems, furnaces, ultra-violet lights used to cure printing inks and paints, lasers used in education and research, and therapeutic and surgical treatments, the repair of laser containing equipment.

• An intermediate group of intense light sources that could cause ill health if stared at for long periods or in very close proximity to workers. This group includes high-pressure mercury floodlighting, desktop projectors and low powered lasers such as bar code scanners.

The regulations would not apply to group 1. For groups 2 and 3 employers will be required to provide sensible control measures. The hazard has been recognised for a very long time. In most cases businesses will already be aware of the risk and taking the same sensible precautions as will be required by regulation.

If you think you may fit into group 2 or 3 and would like to know what control measures should be implemented, call through to the Advice Service on 0844 892 2785 and receive tailored advice from one of our specialists.