Northwestern Office for Research



Thomas (TJ) Whittenhall
Health Physicist
Laser Safety Officer
Phone: 1-5581

Laser Safety Information

The Laser Safety Program is established by the Office for Research Safety (ORS) on behalf of Northwestern University and is managed by the Laser Safety Officer (LSO). The Program encompasses monitoring, assessment, evaluation and control of laser hazards and applications of adequate protective measures.

The LSO is appointed by the Vice President for Research (VPR). The VPR delegates authority and responsibility to the LSO for the oversight and the enforcement of laser safety and compliance as required by the Illinois Administrative Code.

The Program includes provisions for Class 3b and Class 4 laser products and systems. To fulfill the State requirement of laser registrations, each laser must be registered in the Northwestern Safety Information System (NSIS). Once approved by the LSO, the laser equipment registration is included in the University's inventory and communicated to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The laser inventory is maintained by the LSO and checked on a periodic basis through in-lab laser safety audits.

Due to the number of laser sources and applications in various research areas, a Laser Safety Committee is also formed and associated to the LSO. The VPR appoints the committee members; the LSO recruits members and coordinates the activities.

Laser Safety Handbook

Laser Safety Handbook
The Laser Safety Handbook is University Policy. Adherence to the Laser Safety Program is mandatory.


The LSO investigates and reports findings to the Laser Safety Committee. A preparation of action plans for the future prevention of analogous circumstances is discussed and profiled following each case.

Incident Report Form
Incidents or alleged accidents must be reported to ORS within five days using ths form.

Training and Authorization

Personnel must be authorized to use Class 3b and Class 4 lasers.

Laser Safety Training
Each potential laser operator must complete this certification. Retraining is required annually.

Laser Operator Registration in NSIS

This NSIS-based registration must be completed and submitted to the LSO.



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