Responsible laser show producers will keep beams from entering audience areas, or will ensure that audience-scanning beams are at eye-safe irradiance levels. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to tell by eye, or from a video, whether audience beams are too powerful.
It is better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, if you have concerns about the safety of any laser display, contact the venue, the producers, and also any appropriate government agencies. These can include local fire code enforcement, and local, state and federal regulators.
For example, in the U.S. contact the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and your state laser agency. In the U.K., contact Public Health England and the local authority for approving shows. Links for agencies can be found at the LasershowSafety.info Links and Resources page.
In March 2015, ILDA asked an FDA representative how the public should contact the agency, if they see a potentially hazardous laser show. The reply was to have the concerned person write a letter to the FDA at the following address:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Devices and Radiological Health
Document Mail Center – WO66-G609
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
FDA has an emergency telephone number, staffed around the clock, for “an FDA-regulated product that requires immediate reporting.”
For non-emergencies, to voluntarily report a suspected problem or injury, you can directly report to the FDA by completing and mailing the Accidental Radiation Occurrence Report form.
If the show was done by an ILDA Member (see here for list), you can also file an Ethics Complaint. ILDA can investigate and can take action within the association. Our most serious penalty is to expel a Member from ILDA.
However, any serious problems or concerns should first be addressed with the venue management and government regulators. They have the authority and duty to stop unsafe or illegal laser shows.
Cameras can be set to make light or dark exposures. Because of this, photos or videos that depict apparently-too bright lasers can look misleadingly hazardous. On the other hand, pictures or videos depicting apparently dim lasers can look misleadingly safe.
For this reason, ILDA does not use the light levels in photos or videos exclusively to determine if a show is hazardous or safe. There needs to be other evidence or indications before trying to draw a conclusion.
In some cases, a video can prove whether a show is illegal. For example, a video can depict whether lasers scan into the audience. If the show is in the U.S., and the laser show company does not have an FDA variance permitting audience scanning, then the video is proof that the company violated its variance.
Videos have been cited by FDA as evidence in at least one case where FDA revoked a laser show company’s variance.
Generally, ILDA cannot tell you whether a laser effect or show is unsafe. Part of this is due to the problem cited above, where it is difficult to determine safety from a video.
If you do want to report to ILDA, please contact us describing the problem. It greatly helps if you have photos or videos, or a link to them. For videos, be sure to include example time stamps where you see the potentially unsafe effect; for example, "Lasers on audience members at 1:46." Even better, capture a screenshot of the video which includes the time stamp (so we know when it occurred) and which has the offending effect circled.
We will get back with you with comments.
If the laser show was done by an ILDA Member, and you feel it is clearly unsafe, you can file an Ethics Complaint. While this is mostly used for violations of the Code of Ethics and Code of Business Practice, the same process can be used for violations of ILDA's Lasershow Safety - Basic Principles.
Note that while ILDA is responsible for its own Members following our Ethics and Safety guidance, we have no authority over non-members.
No matter whether the laser show was done by an ILDA Member or by a non-member, you are always free to contact the venue, authorities, etc. as described elsewhere on this page to report safety issues.
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