Optical Radiation

Optical radiation is another term for light, covering ultraviolet (UV) radiation, visible light and infrared radiation.

The greatest risk to health from optical radiation is probably posed by UV radiation from the sun. Exposure of the eyes to UV radiation can damage the cornea and produce pain and symptoms similar to that of sand in the eye. The effects on the skin range from redness, burning and accelerated ageing through to various types of skin cancer.

The second greatest risk to health from optical radiation is probably posed by the misuse of powerful lasers. High-power lasers can cause serious damage to the eye (including blindness) as well as producing skin burns.

The Optical Radiation Directive was published on 27 April 2006 under the title of "Directive 2006/25/EC on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (artificial optical radiation)".

This Directive has been transposed into Irish law as the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work). (S.I. No. 176 of 2010 722KB PDF Opens in new window). These Regulations came into force on 29 April 2010.