“In our operating rooms, a plume (smoke) is often produced by the use of cautery & laser.

Since it has been demonstrated that there is viable HIV and human papilloma virus (HPV) within the Plume, I have two questions: 1) how can I be sure we are in compliance with OSHA? and 2) How can I be certain our doctors and nurses are safe in our operating room?”

OSHA’s laser safety standard 29 CFR 1910.97(a) has addressed the issue of laser plume. Since it is a serious issue for employees, the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended two effective ways to control it. They are:

• Ventilation

• Work Practices


Recommended ventilation techniques include a combination of general room and local exhaust ventilation (LEV). General room ventilation is not by itself sufficient to capture contaminants generated at the source. The two major LEV approaches used to reduce surgical smoke levels for health care personnel are portable smoke evacuators and room suction systems.

Work Practices:

The smoke evacuator or room suction hose nozzle inlet must be kept within 2 inches of the surgical site to effectively capture airborne contaminants generated by these surgical devices. The smoke evacuator should be ON (activated) at all times when airborne particles are produced during all surgical or other procedures. At the completion of the procedure all tubing, filters, and absorbers must be considered infectious waste and be disposed appropriately. New filters and tubing should be installed on the smoke evacuator for each procedure. While there are many commercially available smoke evacuator systems to select from, all of these LEV systems must be regularly inspected and maintained to prevent possible leaks. Users must also utilize control measures such as standard precautions, as required by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen standard.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn by employees to ensure they are safe while operating laser equipment. Protective equipment for laser safety generally means eye protection in the form of goggles or spectacles, clothing, and barriers and other devices designed for laser protection.

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At Gamma Compliance Solutions, we come to work every day because we want to solve the biggest problem in regulatory compliance: helping you make sure you have met all the requirements. Over the years, we have developed different compliance packages to suit practices at any stage in the OSHA and HIPAA compliance process. We have designated this area of our blog to post important updates and share key resources and guidelines you need to best protect your employees and yourselves. In addition to checking this area of our blog, follow us on social media to receive notifications when we share important information.