The Laser Safety Officer in Germany - Duties and Legal Framework

The Laser Safety Officer

The laser safety officer plays an important role in occupational safety in the company. The requirement for the appointment of a laser safety officer is specified in Germany in the OStrV (Occupational Safety Ordinance on Artificial Optical Radiation):Laserschutzbeauftragter Ausweis

"Prior to the commencement of operation of Class 3R, 3B and 4 laser equipment, the employer shall, unless he has the necessary expertise itself, appoint a laser safety officer in writing. [...]"  §5 (2) OStrV

This means that as soon as a laser of class 3R, 3B or 4 is used, a laser safety officer is required. It is also important to note that although some laser systems are classified as class 1 lasers, there may be certain operating conditions, e.g. maintenance, cleaning, adjustment or similar, in which the laser is class 3B or 4. In such a case, too, a laser safety officer must be appointed in writing.


The OStrV as a legal framework for the laser safety officer

With the OStrV, the legislator in Germany has created a legal framework that defines the basic requirements for handling laser radiation in a commercial context. Here, for example, the requirement to attend a training course is defined (§5 (2) OStrV), as well as participation in regular training.

Nevertheless, the OStrV as a framework regulation is kept relatively vague and specific requirements for the laser safety officer can only be roughly derived from it.

That is why the BauA, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, has issued a supplementary and explanatory publication: TROS - the Technical Rules to the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance on Artificial Optical Radiation.


The TROS Laser Radiation and the detailed requirements for the laser safety officer

The TROS Laser Radiation explains in detail how certain requirements from the OStrV are to be applied in specific terms. It consists of the General Part, in which above all the requirements for the laser safety officer are specified, Part 1, which deals primarily with the subject of risk assessment (a central subject for the laser safety officer), Part 2, which deals with measurements and calculations, and Part 3, which deals specifically with the measures for protection against hazards from laser radiation.

"The requirements for the laser safety officer are specified in detail".

"The requirements for the laser safety officer, his rights and duties, are listed in more detail in the General Part. Very specifically for the laser safety officer is specified:
The LSO has participated in a relevant training course, passed the final examination and has proof of successful participation. He keeps his expertise up to date through regular participation in specific training courses.

Note: The time intervals between training measures depend on the extent to which the state of the art with regard to the laser products used or the regulations have evolved. In principle, a one-day advanced training course in a period of five years is considered appropriate." Para 5.1 (2) TROS Laser Radiation, General Part

A refresher qualification as a laser safety officer is therefore required at the latest every 5 years. This also makes sense, as both the legal framework and scientific knowledge continue to develop - lasers are a comparatively young technology, after all, the laser principle was only discovered in 1960.

 At the latest every 5 years.


Requirement of the laser safety officer at events with lasers

The OStrV requires the laser safety officer in the context of occupational health and safety law. However, the regulations therefore also apply to events with lasers (i.e. in event technology), because the VStaettVO (Ordinance on Places of Assembly) states:

"On the operation of laser systems in the areas accessible to visitors, the occupational safety regulations are to be applied accordingly." §36 (5) VStaettVO

This extends the scope of the OStrV to event technology.


The tasks of the laser safety officer

The laser safety officer assumes a clearly defined role in the company and is organized in the context of occupational safety and health.

"The laser safety officer must be appointed in writing" (azw para 5.1 (3) TROS Allg), so it is not sufficient to appoint an arbitrary employee on call. The background is clear: Only in this way can a clear responsibility be established.

This clear responsibility is important so that rights and obligations can also be defined accordingly. "With the appointment, the employer assigns him concrete tasks, powers (e.g. to shut down the laser system in case of detected defects) and duties with regard to protection against laser radiation" (azw para 5.1 (3) TROS Allg).

Of course, it often makes sense to appoint several laser safety officers, especially if different, spatially separated lasers are to be supervised, or also if a limitation of responsibilities in terms of time makes sense (shift work, part-time work, etc.). The TROS states: "If several LSOs are appointed, the employer must clearly define the areas of responsibility (e.g. temporal/spatial) of the individual LSOs. (azw para 5.1 (3) TROS Allg).

Interestingly, the ultimate responsibility for the risk assessment and the implementation of the protective measures is always with the employer - so he can define the activities and internal responsibilities and also assign responsibility within the company, but not with regard to the responsibility to implement these points arising from the OStrV. (cf. para 5.1 (3) TROS Allg)

One clear task of the laser safety officer, however, is to support the employer by providing specialist knowledge regarding safety assessment, risk assessment and technical, organizational and personal protective measures (cf. para 5.1 (4) TROS Allg). In practice, however, the laser safety officer in the company will normally assume internal responsibility for these topics.

Of course, the tasks of the laser safety officer go even further: TROS speaks of the responsibility to "support" the employer in various other points to ensure the safe and proper operation of laser systems.

Specifically, this includes regular monitoring of the specified protective measures, with the laser safety officer also informing the employer in the event of non-compliance or problems and "working towards the enforcement of the necessary measures for safe operation" (azw para 5.1 (4) TROS Allg)

Another task of the laser safety officer is to cooperate with the occupational safety specialist, who often establishes an overarching occupational safety framework in the company, and the company physician (azw para 5.1 (5) TROS Allg)

The employees of a company must be regularly instructed in the handling and context of laser systems. The laser safety officer supports the employer in the regular instruction (cf. para 5.1 (7) TROS Allg)

Quite specifically, the TROS describes certain prerequisite knowledge of the laser protection officer for his work:


  1. "the basic regulations of occupational health and safety (ArbSchG, OStrV, accident prevention regulations, technical rules, standards and, if applicable, special regulations for laser protection),
  2. the characteristics of laser radiation,
  3. the direct hazards (direct and reflected laser radiation) and their immediate biological effects, as well as the indirect hazards (temporary glare, fire and explosion hazards, noise, electrical hazards) in workplaces with the application of laser radiation,
  4. the basic requirements for a risk assessment,
  5. the risk assessments for the workplaces for which he or she is designated as the LSB,
  6. the protective measures (technical, organizational and personal),
  7. his rights and obligations as LSO,
  8. the laser classes according to DIN EN 60825-1 [1],
  9. the meaning of the exposure limits of the OStrV,
  10. the contents of the instruction according to § 8 OStrV as well as
  11. the course of safe operation of the laser equipment for which he is appointed and knows how this is to be monitored." (para 5.1 (6) TROS Allg)

The laser safety officer thus has a central role in the company with laser equipment to prevent accidents and ensure safe laser operation.

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