LegCo Panel on Health ServicesIntroduction
Meeting on 13 September 1999
Control on Use of Health Care Laser Systems
(in particular Class 3B and Class 4 systems)
In 1988, a Working Group on Laser Safety (WGLS) under the then Committee on Science and Technology was formed to advise the government on scientific and technological issues of laser use with relevance to Hong Kong.
2. The WGLS prepared a voluntary Laser Safety Code of Practice (LSCOP) in October 1991. The LSCOP was subsequently finalised and distributed to laser owners, users, operators and manufacturers in March 1992. It contained guidelines for laser safety in industry, manufacturing, entertainment and display, as well as beauty therapy and biostimulation. Furthermore, the Hong Kong Medical Association and the Hong Kong Surgical Laser Association jointly issued a Code of Practice on Health Care Laser System in Hong Kong in July 1994.
3. As part of the safety awareness programme, the Electrical & Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) conducted a number of laser safety seminars and courses in 1990 for the public, including beauticians, factory inspectors, laboratory staff, doctors and nurses. EMSD also works with other Government departments on areas relating to public safety.
4. EMSD continues to provide advisory and technical support on laser safety to various departments such as the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, Urban Services Department and Regional Services Department, especially in handling applications of licences involving the use of laser devices for entertainment purpose.
5. The degree of control of laser use varies in different countries, ranging from self-regulation to legislation. Some international authorities specify a set of classification criteria for laser products and recommend certain labelling requirements. The World Health Organization recommends that Class 3B and Class 4 laser products should be used by trained persons. These laser products may cause injuries to eyes and skin if improperly used. They may also cause fire risk.
6. In Hong Kong, we have relied on self regulation to control laser use. So far, the Administration is not aware of any serious laser injury cases related to beauty or medical treatment. However, there is increasing concern among health professionals recently as a number of beauty salons are now advertising the use of laser for hair removal or skin biostimulation.
7. Although the use of laser devices in beauty salons is not under statutory control, safety guidelines on the use of lasers for beauty therapy and biostimulation are included in the Laser Safety Code of Practice (Part 5). The Code recommends that only competent persons with training in laser safety should be employed in handling Class 3B and Class 4 health care laser systems. EMSD is prepared to provide technical assistance and advice on issues relating to laser safety for beauty salons whenever required.
8. The Labour Department has recently conducted inspections, as part of their work in enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, on some beauty salons that advertise laser treatments. It was noted that only a few of these beauty salons were actually using laser systems to provide treatment. The laser systems used are Class 3B laser products. The staff of these beauty salons are found to be competent and conversant with the safety precautions.
The Way Forward
9. The Government will continue to monitor the situation. EMSD and DH will jointly work on programmes to enhance laser safety awareness among the public and users.
Health and Welfare Bureau