Health and Safety

Optical Radiation

The tissues of the body affected by optical irradiation are the skin and eyes. The biological effects are as follows:




Sunburn (UV) Pain, light sensitivity, tearing (UV)
Ageing (UV) Cataract (UV & IR)
Cancers (UV) Burns and retinal damage (Visible & IR)
Burns (Visible & IR)   


UV Radiation (UVR) [100nm to 400nm]

Typical sources of UV within the University are:

    • Sun (outdoor workers, field trips)
    • Electric arc welding
    • Mercury, metal halide and high-energy discharge lamps (e.g. curing, drying, printing processes)
    • Certain laboratory equipment (spectrophotometers, transilluminators etc.)


People working outdoors for prolonged periods, are likely to be exposed to UVR from the sun, even on cloudy days. Those travelling aboard on field trips and other University business are also at risk of exposure.

A combination of the following precautions should be taken:

    • Use of shade structures and awnings made from material offering sufficient protection
    • Planning and timetabling for outdoor work to minimise exposure to direct sunlight during periods of greatest intensity and to limit the total duration of exposure
    • Use of UVR protective clothing (loose with close weave)
    • Wear a wide brimmed hat
    • Use protective eyewear with side protection
    • Where sun cannot be adequately protected by clothing, some people may choose to apply sunblock or high SPF suncream
    • Apply generously 15 minutes in advance of exposure and repeat application frequently

Electric Arc Welding

Involves intense forms of UVR. Staff involved in this work must have received appropriate training. The following precautions must be taken:

    • Work-piece and work area must be shielded and enclosed as much as possible
    • Restrict access to area where possible and prevent inadvertent exposure
    • Both eyes and skin must be protected using appropriate visors and clothing
    • Protect others that have to be in the area 

Laboratory Equipment

Laboratory UVR sources such as transilluminators and gel documentation equipment usually emit UVR in the region of 280nm to 400nm. Detailed information and guidance on their safe use can be found on the Safety Office website. Eye and skin protection is required.

Infra-red radiation [IRR]

Intense IRR sources can result in skin burns or a risk of cataracts developing. The hazard is associated with furnace work and powerful heating and drying processes using IRR. Glass or metal doors with interlocks and warning notices are recommended.


See separate introduction and policy.


Safety Office

Pharmacy Building - Lower Ground Floor
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3401