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Lasers

Lasers in optic cables

Lasers in optic cables

In an optical fibre network, laser radiation is normally enclosed inside fibres and terminal devices. Such systems do not contain individual entities that could be identified as laser equipment and classified in a traditional way. However, various fault situations, such as cable disconnection or breakage, may cause a hazardous situation in which it is possible to be exposed to laser radiation very far from the source of the laser radiation itself.

Because power is distributed across the network into several fibres, and since fibre amplifiers can be used in the network, the danger caused by a failure depends on the part of the fibre network in which it occurs.    

Hazard levels 1, 1M, 2, 2M, 3R, 3B and 4 have been defined to assess the safety of optical fibre locations. The determination is carried out in places where it is possible to be exposed to laser radiation in fore-seeable situations, for example in the event of cable disconnection or user error, in connection with component breakage or disconnection. Laser emission is evaluated in the same way as the radiated power of the laser device would be evaluated for classification purposes.    

Locations are also defined based on whether they are controlled, restricted or unrestricted. Controlled locations, such as central control rooms, may only be used by persons who have received adequate training in laser safety and who carry out maintenance procedures for the system. A restricted location is not open to the public.    

The permissible hazard levels for different optical fibre locations are as follows:

  • Hazard levels 1, 1M, 2, 2M, 3R or 3B in a controlled location.
  • Hazard levels 1, 1M, 2, 2M or 3R in a restricted location.
  • Hazard levels 1, 1M, 2, or 2M in an unrestricted location.  

Optical cables must have appropriate labels to distinguish them from electrical cables. If fibres have mul-tiple wavelengths, they must be evaluated in the same way as individual laser sources.

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