Hazard alerts (2011)

Commissioning Plant (Equipment)

A recent incident resulted in minor injury from flying debris and the noise when a fume cupboard fan disintegrated during start up and commissioning. The incident reinforces the necessity for Competent Persons carrying out commissioning of Plant (Equipment) to ensure that the start up risk/s are considered as part of their Plant (Equipment) risk management plan.

A critical component of the risk management planning should include all foreseeable risks associated with the start up of newly acquired, modified or in-house manufactured Plant (Equipment), including the identification of hazard/s and potential risks should the Plant (Equipment) suffer any unplanned catastrophic failure during start up.

Prior to energising recently acquired, newly constructed or modified Plant (Equipment), a review of the Plant (Equipment) control measures must be considered, documented and discussed with all Competent Person(s) involved.

A Pre and Post start up review should form part of the overall risk management summary of newly acquired, modified or in-house manufactured Plant (Equipment). The review is to confirm the safety of construction or modifications undertaken are operational and safe, including being in accordance with applicable design codes and standards.

For further information email: OHS Officer


Plant (Equipment) Risk Management Procedure, Part C - Installation and Commissioning.

Plant - Risk Assessment and Management Summary

Laser pointers

Laser pointers are becoming more and more common in lectures and presentations to indicate an area on a projection screen, blackboard, or similar. It is difficult for many people to believe that a device that looks like an ordinary pen-light and runs on a couple of AAA batteries can be dangerous. However, within the device is a small yet power laser diode.

Laser pointers are commercially available as Class 1, 2 or 3 lasers. Laser classification gives an indication to their degree of hazard. At one end of the scale, class 1 lasers are safe for normal viewing, while at the high power end, class 4 lasers are extremely hazardous to the eye and skin (either directly or by a reflection). Eye damage is usually avoided with a class 2 laser by your blink reflex or aversion response. A class 3 laser pointer has the potential to cause eye injury, especially in the hands of an unaware, untrained, or careless operator. The resultant injury can range from temporary flash blinding (similar to a visual after image) to a slight retinal lesion. That is why in Australia, laser pointers shall not exceed class 2 for demonstration, display or entertainment in unsupervised areas. The use of other classes of lasers for such purposes should be permitted only when the laser operation is under the control of an experienced, well-trained operator and when spectators are prevented from exposure to dangerous levels. (section 12.4 of AS 2211.1:2004).

Laser pointers should be handled with respect. The beam should never be intentionally aimed at people.

Laser pointers of Class 3 or above, should not be used within the Australian National University, except by aware and trained staff under the guidance of a laser safety officer. Class 3 (hand held) laser pointers that emit laser radiation in excess of 1 mW can be considered a prohibited weapon under the ACT Prohibited Weapons Act 1996. These dangerous lasers should only be used by trained and aware staff with a legitimate reason.

Additional information is available in the University Laser Pointer Guidelines, Australian Standard, ARPANSA or from the OHS Branch. The OHS Branch conducts regular Laser Safety courses.


  1. Australian Standard, AS/NZS 2211.1:2004: Safety of laser products - Equipment classification, requirements and user's guide (IEC 60825-1:2001, MOD)
  2. National Health and Medical Research Council, Code of practice for the safe use of lasers in the entertainment industry (1995), Radiation Health Series No. 37.
  3. Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
  4. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, Today, Volume 6, No. 2, April 1998.