5 Things You Need for a Safe and Compliant Laser Show

You've booked the gig. You've spec'd your gear. You may have even pre-programmed your show. But have you taken laser safety into consideration? Read on to see the five things you must have for your laser show to be compliant.

Properly labeled projectors

Take a look at your laser projectors. Are all stickers and labels intact, visible, and legible? Are they the original stickers from the manufacturer? If at any point they become unreadable, contact the manufacturer for replacements.

In the U.S., you also want to make sure there is a bright yellow aperture warning label like the one below.

Laser aperture warning sticker on faceplate of laser

Remember, all labels must be visible and accessible at all times during the show. 

Valid laser light show variance

No, you cannot use a laser without a variance!

Request a copy of the manufacturer's variance and make sure it is actually theirs, and not one that belongs to someone else.

If you're renting the laser systems from another production company, you should get a copy of theirs too.

Using a laser without a valid variance not only is illegal in the U.S., but insurance will not back you up if something happens.

Captive key switch & emission indicator

There are two hardware pieces on the laser system that must be present in order to be legal. One is a captive key switch to keep the key in place and in the proper orientation during the show. The other is an emission indicator light that cannot be covered up during a show. Laser operators must be able to tell if a laser is on and ready to emit.

emission indicator light and captive key switch located on a laser projector

Remote stop

Don't push the big red button! Or do, if there is a risk of someone being harmed by the laser beams. In that case, hit that button!

The remote stop should be located within easy reach of the laser operator. Often people place it next to their console. A secondary remote stop can be located in other places, like offstage. 

When the remote stop is triggered, all laser systems in the chain will stop emitting, their emission indicators will turn off, and will not turn on again until reset.

Output delay & reset function

If you kill power to the projector and turn it back on, a compliant laser system will require you hit the reset button and there will be a brief delay before output is enabled. With a proper Class 4 reset function in place, you’ll never be in a position where the laser may output immediately after power is restored.

If you are not sure the equipment you’re using has this safety feature, test it out by turning the system on without pressing the reset button on your remote stop. If the system boots into a condition where it’s ready to emit laser and the system is labeled as Class 4 this is a non-compliant system in the U.S. and should not be used.


This may seem like a lot to remember, but it is all important to have checked for each of your laser light shows. Remember, it's always better safe than sorry. And what's better than a killer light show with no safety concerns?



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