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Voluntary Standards Cover the Spectrum: from the Safe Use of Lasers to Temporary Ladders

In an effort to communicate the vital role that standards play in daily life, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) will publish, on an ongoing basis, a series of snapshots of the diverse standards initiatives undertaken in the global and national standards arena, many of which are performed by ANSI members and ANSI-accredited standards developers. Two of the latest selections follow:

Safe Use of Lasers
Lasers are used around the world in a variety of educational settings including teaching laboratories, classrooms, lecture halls, science fairs, and science museums. ANSI Z136.5- 2009, Safe Use of Lasers in Educational Institutions, addresses laser safety concerns and situations characteristic of the educational environment.

This recently revised standard from the Laser Institute of America (LIA) is intended for staff, faculty, and students using lasers for academic instruction in university, college, secondary, or primary educational facilities. ANSI Z136.5-2009 is intended to be used in conjunction with ANSI Z136.1, Safe Use of Lasers, and applies the requirements of ANSI Z136.1 to the unique environments associated with educational institutions. The ANSI Z136 series is recognized by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), and is the authoritative series of laser safety documents in the U.S.

ANSI Z136.5-2009 provides laser safety guidance by evaluating and minimizing hazards associated with laser radiation in educational settings. It also discusses developing laser safety programs and student training. Various diagrams and examples of properly placed lasers and laser systems in relation to the audience are included.

An ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer, LIA is a non-profit professional membership society dedicated to fostering the use, development, and safety of lasers worldwide. Serving the industrial, medical, research, and government communities, LIA offers a wide array of products and services including safety and application publications, training videos, signs and labels, laser safety officer training, and conferences.

Temporary Ladders
Job-made wooden ladders are custom-crafted to fit specific job situations during construction or demolition operations. Their primary purpose is to provide access to, or egress from, a work area. ANSI ASC A14.4-2009, American National Standard Safety Requirements for Job Made Wooden Ladders, is a safety standard which prescribes minimum requirements and recommendations for the construction, design, installation, and use of job-made wooden ladders in order to minimize personal injuries.

The recently published standard from the American Ladder Institute (ALI), an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer, provides technical specifications and other criteria to ensure that materials, products, and processes are appropriate to their purpose. The guidelines in ANSI ASC A14.4-2009 aim to ensure that safety is consistently and properly addressed when using job-made ladders so that accidents are prevented. For example, the standard explains that these ladders are temporary in nature and should serve only until a particular phase of work is completed or until permanent stairways or fixed ladders are ready for use. ANSI ASC A14.4-2009 does not cover portable manufactured or portable job-made ladders, permanent fixed ladders, or mobile-equipment ladders.

Founded in 1947, ALI is a non-profit membership association dedicated to promoting safe ladder use serving ladder manufacturers and manufacturers of ladder components throughout North America. ALI works to educate the public as to the selection, care, and safe use of ladders, and to develop and disseminate appropriate standards for design, construction, testing, care, and use of ladders.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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