"Defense-in-Depth" Laser Safety and the National Ignition Facility

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the largest and most energetic laser in the world contained in a complex the size of a football stadium. From the initial laser pulse, provided by telecommunication style infrared nanoJoule pulsed lasers, to the final 192 laser beams (1.8 Mega Joules total energy in the ultraviolet) converging on a target the size of a pencil eraser, laser safety is of paramount concern. In addition to this, there are numerous high-powered (Class 3B and 4) diagnostic lasers in use that can potentially send their laser radiation travelling throughout the facility. With individual beam paths of ... continued below

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King, J J December 2, 2010.

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the largest and most energetic laser in the world contained in a complex the size of a football stadium. From the initial laser pulse, provided by telecommunication style infrared nanoJoule pulsed lasers, to the final 192 laser beams (1.8 Mega Joules total energy in the ultraviolet) converging on a target the size of a pencil eraser, laser safety is of paramount concern. In addition to this, there are numerous high-powered (Class 3B and 4) diagnostic lasers in use that can potentially send their laser radiation travelling throughout the facility. With individual beam paths of up to 1500 meters and a workforce of more than one thousand, the potential for exposure is significant. Simple laser safety practices utilized in typical laser labs just don't apply. To mitigate these hazards, NIF incorporates a multi layered approach to laser safety or 'Defense in Depth.' Most typical high-powered laser operations are contained and controlled within a single room using relatively simplistic controls to protect both the worker and the public. Laser workers are trained, use a standard operating procedure, and are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as Laser Protective Eyewear (LPE) if the system is not fully enclosed. Non-workers are protected by means of posting the room with a warning sign and a flashing light. In the best of cases, a Safety Interlock System (SIS) will be employed which will 'safe' the laser in the case of unauthorized access. This type of laser operation is relatively easy to employ and manage. As the operation becomes more complex, higher levels of control are required to ensure personnel safety. Examples requiring enhanced controls are outdoor and multi-room laser operations. At the NIF there are 192 beam lines and numerous other Class 4 diagnostic lasers that can potentially deliver their hazardous energy to locations far from the laser source. This presents a serious and complex potential hazard to personnel. Because of this, a multilayered approach to safety is taken. This paper presents the philosophy and approach taken at the NIF in the multi-layered 'defense-in-depth' approach to laser safety.

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PDF-file: 9 pages; size: 1.6 Mbytes

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  • Presented at: High Power Lasers for Fusion Research, San Fransisco, CA, United States, Jan 25 - Jan 25, 2011

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  • Report No.: LLNL-CONF-463772
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1018441
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc843578

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  • December 2, 2010

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Nov. 23, 2016, 12:28 p.m.

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King, J J. "Defense-in-Depth" Laser Safety and the National Ignition Facility, article, December 2, 2010; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc843578/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.