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Core of Knowledge syllabus

Approved by British Medical Laser Association, Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, Society for Radiological Protection. December 2013.

Core of Knowledge syllabus

Core of Knowledge represents a body of knowledge that underpins the safe use of lasers in clinical practice. It is intended to be undertaken by all staff using laser (class 3 and 4) and non‐laser (IPL and LED) light sources in a range of applications, including medical, surgical, dental and aesthetic practices. Its aim is to provide users with an understanding of the basic principles of laser safety. It is essential that Core of Knowledge is supplemented by additional training in specific applications. Although exact content may differ slightly, the following syllabus is considered to be the minimum course content that may be covered by training centres. Course duration should total at least 3 hours.

After attending the course, each participant should understand:

  • Basic principles of laser generation and review of laser/IPL technology
  • Laser hazard classification
  • Meaning of associated warning labels
  • Principles of quality assurance
  • Emission characteristics of different types of equipment
  • Laser‐tissue interaction mechanisms
  • Penetration of light of different wavelengths through skin and eye
  • Dangers of central versus peripheral retinal damage
  • Hazards to eye and skin from accidental exposure
  • The concept of Maximum Permissible Exposure and Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance
  • Principles of risk assessment
  • Laser safety management including the role of the Laser Protection Adviser, Laser Protection Supervisor, Local Rules and Controlled Area
  • Risks associated with accidental reflections
  • Personal protection measures including eye protection
  • Hazards to the patient, e.g. endotracheal tube ignition
  • Incidental hazards, including electrical, fire explosion and plume emission
  • Relevant legislation, standards and guidelines
  • How to deal with an adverse event or accidental exposure

Course organisers should issue an attendance certificate and keep a record of attendees for a minimum of 5 years. There is merit in performing an assessment of understanding.
It is good practice for individuals to re‐attend Core of Knowledge courses every 5 years, or sooner following an extended absence or if there have been significant changes to equipment or practices affecting the individual.
It is recommended that the course should be approved by a recognised body such as the British Medical Laser Association.
It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that adequate measures, including training, are in place to ensure safe use of lasers and IPL devices.

The BMLA is grateful for the kind support of its sponsors. The BMLA does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. Thus, the presence of the above logos does not signify BMLA endorsement or recommendation.