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Risk assessments

Boxford BGL690 laser cutter

Research group and location

Departmental hardware laboratory: room SE17

Description of the laser

The Boxford BGL690 is a computer-controlled enclosed laser cutter for cutting shapes out of wood and plastic sheets, or for engraving. If contains a sealed CO2 laser that can emit a continuous 80-watt beam of 10.6 µm infrared radiation. The beam is focused onto the cutting target via a system of mirrors and lenses that are mounted onto a servo-controlled XYZ stage. The head of that stage also emits a red guidance pointer produced by a Class 2 laser diode (630–680 nm, < 1 mW).

The cutting laser is a Class 4 laser in a Class 1 enclosure, deactivated by a safety-switch interlock as soon as the operator opens the safety enclosure. The entire system has been classified as a Class 2 laser device due to the presence of a visible laser diode (red marker laser).

The system is equipped with a fume extractor, the outlet of which is connected directly to the outside of the building, via a vent hole that was installed in room SE17 for this purpose.

Identified hazards

  • The infrared cutting laser has been classified by the vendor as a Class 1 device, because the enclosure and safety interlocks prevent exposing the users to the cutting beam. The embedded cutting laser without these safety measures would be a Class 4 device, which could cause skin burns and severe eye damage, the latter even after diffuse reflection.
  • The red marking laser has been classified by the vendor as a Class 2 laser diode. Users should avoid staring into its beam, like with any Class 2 laser pointer.
  • The cutting process may produce harmful fumes and the cutted material can catch fire.
  • The XYZ stage is driven by powerful motors and could cause crush injuries if operated next to any body parts.

Local rules for safe use

  • The machine may only be used by people trained and authorized by Thomas Bytheway, who maintains a record of trained users.
  • Familiarize yourselves with the device's User Manual, and pay in particular attention to the sections on Laser Safety and Fire Safety.
  • The laser cutter must only be operated in room SE17, with the air extractor on and connected to the wall outlet.
  • Let the air extractor run for at least 20 seconds after the end of the cutting process before opening the lid, to allow it to remove fumes before they can enter the room.
  • Do not operate the laser cutter unattended, even for brief periods, due to the fire risk.
  • Check for the presence of the nearest CO2 fire extinguisher (one outside room SE17, two more near the toilets and at the southern end of the corridor).
  • Do not cut materials such as PVC or Teflon that may produce toxic or corrosive substances or gasses.


If there is any laser incident or accident at the department, inform the Departmental Laser Officer and the Departmental Safety Officer.

If an eye injury is suspected, the injured person should consult Occupational Health if possible and see a specialist ophthalmologist within 24 hours (at Addenbrookes Hospital or Moorfields Eye Hospital). The injured person must not drive.

See Safe Use of Lasers, Section 11.9 (page 58) for more information and emergency contact details.


Consult the Departmental Laser Safety Officer in case this laser cutter is to be serviced on site.


Date: September 2023