Laser Licenses and Regulations

The University of Texas at Austin maintains a certificate of registration for lasers issued by The Texas Department of State Health Services which enables us to possess, use, transfer and service laser devices on our main campus and select satellite locations for use in teaching, training, education, the healing arts, research, and development.

Third party vendors and manufacturers of lasers must obtain their own certificate of registration for lasers from The Texas Department of State Health Services and provide a copy of the certificate to EHS prior to performing any service on lasers including training with the laser device at our facilities. Specific guidance to third party vendors and manufacturers can be found here [link new  3rd party vendor URL].



Maintaining our license with The State of Texas is contingent upon compliance with the provisions of Title 25 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) rules  §289.203, §289.204, §289.205, §289.231 and §289.301

25TAC289.301 (Registration and Radiation Safety Requirements for Lasers and Intense-Pulsed Light Devices) is the state rule most often referenced by EHS.

This rule is also applicable to lasers that meet the requirements of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) - international standards 60825-1 (Safety Of Laser Products - Part 1: Equipment Classification And Requirements) and 60601-2-22 (Medical electrical equipment - Part 2-22: Particular requirements for basic safety and essential performance of surgical, cosmetic, therapeutic and diagnostic laser equipment) as allowed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health(CDRH) in guidance document, Laser Notice No.50.

All laser products sold in the United States must comply with The Performance Standards for Light Emitting Products (Part 1040) which includes the regulations formerly known as The Federal Laser Product Performance Standard (FLPPS) of the CDRH (21CFR1040.10 and 21CFR1040.11). A compliance guide is available for certifying laser products where this requirement is applicable.

Custom Built and Modified Lasers

If a laser is built in-house at the university then it does not have to be certified with the federal performance standards provided that it is

  • operated only by the individuals who built it
  • not mass produced
  • not offered into commerce
  • not relocated from its original site

However, EHS must still be notified to determine the appropriate hazard class, perform a risk assessment and provide review/approval prior to operation. A laser may not be modified from its original condition unless EHS has reviewed and approved the modification as the laser class and subsequent safety control measures may need to be adjusted.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The voluntary, consensus, user standard, ANSI Z136.1 – American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers, is also incorporated by reference into the state of Texas regulation 25TAC289.301 and is used extensively by EHS for hazard analysis and determination of applicable control measures. ANSI Z136 is recognized by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). State and local government workers are not covered by federal OSHA in Texas but many of the state’s regulations and polices emulate OSHA. The secretariat and publisher for the ANSI Z136 laser safety series is the Laser Institute of America.

Several vertical standards exist within the ANSI Z136 series depending on specific applications such as lasers in healthcare or laser use outdoors. The nine standards of the series (plus one proposed) with their most current iterations include:

  • ANSI Z136.1-2014, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers (replaces ANSI Z136.1-2007)
  • ANSI Z136.2-2012, American National Standard for Safe Use of Optical Fiber Communication Systems Utilizing Laser Diode and LED Sources (replaces ANSI Z136.2-1997)
  • ANSI Z136.3-2018, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Health Care (replaces ANSI Z136.3-2011)
  • ANSI Z136.4-2021, American National Standard Recommended Practice for Laser Safety Measurements for Hazard Evaluation (replaces ANSI Z136.4-2010)
  • ANSI Z136.5-2020, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Educational Institutions (replaces ANSI Z136.5-2009)
  • ANSI Z136.6-2015, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers Outdoors (replaces ANSI Z136.6-2005)
  • ANSI Z136.7-2020, American National Standard for Testing and Labeling of Laser Protective Equipment (replaces ANSI Z136.7-2008)
  • ANSI Z136.8-2021, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing (replaces ANSI Z136.8-2012)
  • ANSI Z136.9-2013, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Manufacturing Environments (first edition)
  • ANSI Z136.10 (proposed), Safe Use of Laser in Entertainment, Displays and Exhibitions (in committee)

Other Laser Guidelines and Standards

ANSI B11.21-2006 (R2012), Safety Requirements for Machine Tools Using a Laser for Processing Materials – includes but is not limited to drilling, cutting, welding, cladding, surface melting, transformation hardening, marking, engraving, curing, ablation, laser-shock hardening, scribing, sintering, rapid prototyping, stereolithography

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 115, Laser Fire Protection - Oversight provided by Fire Prevention Services

FAA JO 7400.2 – Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters – Outdoor Laser Operations – Outdoor laser/high intensity light demonstrations – Used for determining or verifying the effects on safe and efficient utilization of airspace.

OSHA Technical Manual – Section III: Chapter 6 – Laser Hazards – Provides technical information about workplace hazards and controls.

OSHA General Duty Clause – Section 5(a) of the OSH Act of 1970 – OSHA has been known to cite laser findings under the general duty clause.

29CFR1926: Standards for Construction Safety

1926.54 Non-Ionizing Radiation (specifically lasers)

1926.102 Eye and Face Protection (specific section for laser protection)

International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (NCNIRP) – Independent organization that provides advice/guidance on health and environmental effects of non-ionizing radiation. Established exposure limits and position statements for laser radiation as well as incoherent electromagnetic radiation sources.