Optical radiation is another term for light, covering ultraviolet (UV) radiation, visible light, and infrared radiation. The greatest risks to health are probably posed by:

  • UV radiation from the sun. Exposure of the eyes to UV radiation can damage the cornea and produce pain and symptoms similar to that of sand in the eye. The effects on the skin range from redness, burning and accelerated ageing through to various types of skin cancer.
  • the misuse of powerful lasers. High-power lasers can cause serious damage to the eye (including blindness) as well as producing skin burns.

The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010

The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations came into force on 27 April 2010 and aim to protect workers from the risks to health from  hazardous sources of artificial optical radiation (AOR).

Workers in Great Britain are generally well protected from AOR and the majority of businesses with hazardous sources know how to manage the risks effectively. Further work is only expected to be undertaken by those businesses that use hazardous sources of AOR and where the associated AOR risks have not already been reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable.

We have produced guidance to help dutyholders decide whether they are already protecting their workers or whether they need to do more under the new regulations.

UV exposure

In addition to promoting information about the hazards of undue exposure to the sun for those people who work outdoors, we are also involved in a much broader public health campaign called SunSmart. Our role is to provide input to target those people who spend most of their time working outside. More information about the campaign can be found on the Cancer Research website in the pages about cancer/reducing risk.

Read more: Optical radiation

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