Skip navigation to content

Laser Pointers


   1. Introduction
   2. Policy Statement
   3. Device Requirements
   4. Conditions of Use
   5. Further Recommendations
   6. Emergency Action


Laser pointers are now used regularly in lectures and other teaching activities. It has been noted that some of the new pointers, which are readily available in the UK and include red and green devices, are more powerful than the older models and pose a serious risk of eye injury to anyone exposed to the beam. This apparent irregularity of devices being available that may be hazardous arises in part due to American (ANSI) standards being more relaxed than British/European Standards (BS EN). Laser pointers used in areas under the control of the University of St. Andrews must comply with the following University policy based on BS EN standards and CVCP recommendations:


Policy Statement

Device Requirements

  • Laser Pointers must not exceed Class 2 (1 mW output power);
  • Laser Pointers must be purchased from reputable manufacturers and suppliers;
  • Laser Pointers may only be modified under certain circumstances (e.g. output power reduction) and only with the approval of the University Laser Safety Adviser.

Conditions of Use

  • Ambient lighting should be kept as high as practicable - blackout conditions should be avoided whenever practicable;
  • Laser Pointers must not be directed towards eyes;
  • Prior to use, checks should be made that there are no reflective surfaces that could foreseeably redirect the laser beam towards eyes (user and audience);
  • Schools / Units are required to take steps to ensure that all relevant persons are made aware of this guidance, including visitors to the University of St. Andrews.

Further Recommendations

  • The use of green or 630nm red waveband laser pointers is recommended. These wavelengths afford greater visibility per unit power;
  • If visiting another establishment and intending to use a laser pointer, you should first check the local regulations.


Emergency Action

In the event of an accidental exposure to the eye of any person, they should be taken to the Accident and Emergency Unit at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee and the University Safety Adviser notified via an Accident Report Form.


Dr. Cameron F. Rae,

University Laser Safety Adviser


Environmental Health and Safety Services contact details

University of St Andrews
Bute Building Queens Terrace
St Andrews
KY16 9TS
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462750
Fax:44 (0)1334 462747