Swiss ban on laser pointers: how to return them for appropriate disposal

The Bulletin of 31 October 2022 featured a reminder concerning the ban on laser pointers on Swiss soil in 2019, as per articles 22 and 23 of the Ordinance to the Swiss Federal Act on Protection against the Risks associated with Non-Ionising Radiation and with Sound (O-NIRSA). This concerns a ban on all laser pointers belonging to classes 1M, 2, 2M, 3R, 3B and 4.

The term “laser pointer” refers to a laser device that, on account of its size and weight, can be held in and guided by hand and that emits laser radiation for the purpose of pointing out objects and locations. These are most commonly used at CERN for giving presentations.

Swiss law is now more restrictive than French law, which authorises class 1, 1M, 2 and 2M laser pointers (décret n° 2012-1303 du 26 novembre 2012 – in French). The tightening of Swiss law follows various incidents in Switzerland involving the use of these lasers.

Following a recent incident in Switzerland involving people in possession of such devices, CERN has decided to ban their use on the whole site, including the French part. Class 1 pointers are still allowed for use in presentations. The ban will be included in the new rule on laser safety that is currently being drafted.

Laser pointers can be disposed of via the appropriate CERN waste pathways, as electronic waste, once the batteries powering them have been removed.

Should you be in possession of a laser pointer of class 1M or above, you can return it for appropriate handling and disposal by placing it in one of the dedicated blue containers for electronics provided by the SCE Storage, Recuperation and Sales service, or hand it in directly at Building 133. 

Thank you for your cooperation.

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