NZ ushers new laser pointer controls

Hand-held lasers strong enough to be a hazard to aircraft will be subject to new import, sale and supply controls under New Zealand’s health and customs legislation, health minister Jo Goodhew has announced.
“Powerful hand-held laser pointers are currently cheap, easy to obtain, and can be sold or supplied with little information regarding hazards and safe use,” said Goodhew.
“The Government will introduce new regulations to control the importation of these dangerous devices and restrict their use to authorised users who have a legitimate purpose such as astronomers, researchers and the NZ Defence Force.
“High-power laser pointers can cause eye injuries – even blindness – and skin burns. ACC accepts around 10 claims a year for these injuries.
“They can also cause temporary flash blindness, which poses a serious risk if the person affected is a pilot or in charge of a vehicle or equipment. The Civil Aviation Authority reports around 100 laser strike incidents on planes each year.
“An order under the Customs and Excise Act 1996 and regulations under the Health Act 1956 to control these devices are being drafted. The Government expects that the new controls will be in effect by the end of the year. ”
The new controls will cover hand held-laser pointers with a power output greater than 1mW, in line with the approach taken in Australia and with recommendations from the World Health Organization. Similar import controls are in place in Australia.
The new restrictions will not cover low-power laser pointers used as presentation aids or those used with survey instruments or rifle sights.