Lasers are classified according to their potential to cause an injury to the eyes and skin. The table below lists the laser classifications with common examples:
|1||Considered eye-safe under any viewing or maintenance condition for which the laser was intended.||Mark VII laser rangefinders|
|1M||Considered eye-safe for unaided viewing under the viewing conditions for which the laser was intended. Could be hazardous for intrabeam viewing with magnifying optics (example: binoculars).||Some infrared illuminators|
|2||Visible wavelength lasers only. Considered to be eye-safe due to a person's natural aversion to bright light. Possible hazard to a person that deliberately stares into the beam for a prolonged period of time.||Laser boresight system (AN/PEM-1)|
|2M||Visible wavelength lasers only. Considered to be eye-safe for unaided viewing unless a person deliberately stares into the beam. Potential hazard when viewed with magnifying optics (example: binoculars).||Bar code scanners|
|3R (3a)||Exceed exposure limit, but with a low risk of eye injury. Not a hazard to exposed skin.||MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System), classroom laser pointers|
|3B (3b)||Exceed exposure limit. Direct or indirect beam (specular, mirror‑like reflections) hazard. May cause permanent damage to eyes, but typically not a serious skin hazard. Diffuse reflections (matte surfaces like paper) are not a hazard.||Medical lasers, ATPIAL (Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Light)|
|4||Exceed exposure limit. Direct or indirect beam and diffuse reflections hazard. Can cause devastating permanent damage to eyes, burn skin, and cause fires.||Medical lasers, target designators, target markers|
Anyone suspecting that they have experienced a possible overexposure or injury from a laser should be seen by a medical provider immediately. The class of the laser will help to determine if an overexposure occurred. In general, class 1 and 2 lasers will not cause injuries or overexposures and class 1M, 2M, and 3R are unlikely to cause injuries. Personnel (including those who work in research, development, testing, and evaluation of laser systems, laser maintenance, or an operating room where a medical laser is in use) who regularly work with class 3B and/or class 4 lasers should have baseline assessments completed for vision prior to using such lasers. Military laser operators are not considered part of this group. These assessments can be used later to better evaluate any suspected overexposures or injuries.
The MTF shall report any incident of known or suspected laser overexposure to the Tri-Service Hotline at 1-800-473-3549 (DSN 798-3764); even if an individual does not have a confirmed laser injury. If possible, the laser class, type, and model should be reported. Complete the online reporting form. To access this form, visit https://hpws.afrl.af.mil/dhp/OE/ESOHSC (CAC required) and complete the registration. From the homepage, select Radiation Safety, then select DoD Tri-Service Laser Safety Hotline.
Once a unit suspects or confirms a laser overexposure incident, the person in charge should notify their Command and Installation Laser Safety Officer (LSO), Radiation Safety Officer (RSO), or Safety Officer.
The LSO, RSO, or Safety Officer will notify the following:
- Tri-Service Laser Injury Hotline: 1-800-473-3549
- Army Public Health Center (APHC): Nonionizing Radiation Division, DSN 584-3932, commercial 410-436-3932 or 1-800-222-9698, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Tri-Service Vision Conservation and Readiness Division, DSN 436-7924, commercial 410-436-2714. After normal duty hours, contact APHC personnel via the staff duty officer, DSN 584-4375 or commercial 410-436-4375 or 1-800-222-9698.
- The Army Safety Office at DSN 227-1194/1321, commercial 703-697-1194/1321 or email@example.com.
- For classified incidents, please contact the Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health (ESOH) service center at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask for SIPR.
- If the incident meets the requirements to file a report utilizing REPORT-IT, the RSO will submit an online report at https://reportit.safety.army.mil per AR 385-10.
For Soldiers returning from deployment, question 17 should be completed on DD form 2796, Post Deployment Health Assessment questionnaire regarding exposure concerns. Notify the installation LSO, RSO, or Safety Officer.