Artificial Optical Radiation Policy

Updated on 27 May 2011

The University has a duty to to identify and assess sources of artificial radiation that may present a hazard to staff. This policy details what procedures are in place to protect staff.

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Policy statement

The University of Dundee recognises its legal responsibilities under the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations (AORWR) 2010, to identify and assess sources of artificial radiation that may present a hazard to staff and put procedures in place to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety of these staff members.


Artificial Optical Radiation (AOR) includes light emitted from all artificial sources i.e. light in all its forms including ultraviolet, infrared and laser beams, but excluding sunlight. In certain applications, this type of radiation has the potential to cause harm to an individual.


Deans/Directors are responsible for identifying all sources of harmful AOR within their area and ensuring that control measures are put in place to reduce the risk of harm to workers to as low as reasonably practicable.

The University Radiation Protection Adviser can advise on the identification and risk assessment of sources of harmful AOR.


Safe light sources

The majority of light sources are safe, such as those described in Appendix 1. If you only have these sources or similar, your workers are not at risk and you don’t need to do anything further.

However when making this decision, it is also worth considering the following points to satisfy yourself that all workers are protected:

  • If you have workers whose health is at particular risk, (e.g. those with pre-existing medical conditions made worse by light)
  • If workers use any chemicals, (e.g. skin creams) which could react with light to make any health effects worse
  • If you have workers who are exposed to multiple sources of light at the same time
  • If exposure to bright light could present unrelated risks, (e.g. temporary blindness could lead to mistakes being made in hazardous tasks)

Hazardous light sources

Some sources of light can cause a risk of ill health, such as burns or reddening (erythema) of the skin or surface of the eye (photokeratitis); burns to the retina of the eye; so-called blue-light damage to the eye (photoretinitis) and, damage to the lens of the eye that may bring about the early onset of cataract. Examples are listed in Appendix 2.

Control measures

If you use hazardous sources of light, you must put in place control measures to reduce the risk of harm to the eyes and skin of your workers, to as low as is reasonably practicable. In most cases, these control measures should already be in place within the University but it is advisable to ensure that as a minimum the following measures are addressed.

  • Use an alternative, safer light source that can achieve the same result
  • Use filters, screens, remote viewing, curtains, safety interlocks, clamping of work pieces, dedicated rooms, remote controls and time delays
  • Train workers in best-practice and give them appropriate information
  • Organise the work to reduce exposure to workers and restrict access to hazardous areas
  • Use personal protective equipment, e.g. clothing, goggles or face shields
  • Use relevant safety signs

If the above points have been addressed, and risk assessments completed for the activities, the vast majority of areas within the University will be able to satisfy themselves that no further controls are needed.

If after this process you still suspect that workers may be at risk, a more detailed risk assessment will be required. This should only apply in a very small minority of cases. If you would like assistance with completing a risk assessment please contact your local Safety Representative or the University Radiation Protection Adviser.

Appendix 1 - Safe light sources

  • 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
  • Computer or similar display equipment, including personal digital assistants (PDAs)
  • Light emitting diode (LED) remote control devices
  • Photographic flashlamps – when used singly
  • Gas-fired overhead heaters
  • Vehicle indicator, brake, reversing and fog lamps
  • Any 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

There are also some sources of light that, if used inappropriately, e.g. placed extremely close to the eyes or skin, have the potential to cause harm but are perfectly safe under normal conditions of use. Examples include:

  • Ceiling-mounted fluorescent lighting without diffusers over bulbs or lamps
  • High-pressure mercury floodlighting
  • Desktop projectors
  • Vehicle headlights
  • Non-laser medical applications such as operating theatre and task lighting, diagnostic lighting such as foetal/neonatal transilluminators and X-ray light/ viewing boxes
  • UV insect traps
  • Art and entertainment applications such as illumination by spotlights, effect lights and flashlamps (provided that any ultraviolet emissions have been filtered out)
  • Multiple photographic flashlamps, for example in a studio
  • Any Risk Group 2 lamp or lamp system (including LEDs), as defined in British Standard BS EN 62471: 2008
  • Class 1M, 2 or 2M lasers, as defined in British Standard BS EN 60825-1: 2007, for example low-power laser pointers

The above list is not exhaustive. If you have sources that are not listed but you know have not caused harm previously, and you have no reason to suspect they present a risk in the way they are used, you can assume no special control measures are needed.

Appendix 2: Hazardous light sources

Examples of hazardous sources of light that present a ‘reasonably foreseeable’ risk of harming the eyes and skin of workers and where control measures are needed include:

  • Metal working – welding (both arc and oxy-fuel) and plasma cutting
  • Pharmaceutical and research – UV fluorescence and sterilisation systems
  • Hot industries – furnaces
  • Printing – UV curing of inks
  • Motor vehicle repairs – UV curing of paints and welding
  • Medical and cosmetic treatments – laser surgery, blue light and UV therapies, Intense Pulsed Light sources (IPLs)
  • Industry, research and education, for example, 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

Less common hazardous sources are associated with specialist activities – for example, lasers exposed during the manufacture or repair of equipment, which would otherwise not be accessible.

The above list is not exhaustive. If you are still unsure whether the sources you have are hazardous you could use the information provided by suppliers, who have a duty under Section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to design, manufacture and supply articles for use at work that are safe, so far as is reasonably practicable, in all reasonably foreseeable circumstances of use. If a source presents a risk of harm, they should provide information and instruction on how this risk should be managed as well as make sure the articles they supply for use at work are appropriately CE-marked.

If you are still unsure whether you have hazardous sources, please contact the University Radiation Protection Adviser.

Document information

Document name Artificial Optical Radiation
Policy number 55/2011


Corporate information category Radiation safety