Local Rules, Risk Assessments and Medical Protocols

Dr Philip Dobson
By Dr Philip Dobson

Dr Dobson is Medical Director of LCS Healthcare and holds board certification under RPA 2000 as a Laser Radiation Protection Adviser.

This question is equally valid if you are a Healthcare Professional (Doctor, Nurse etc) using laser and IPL systems and will continue to be regulated by the CQC after the 1st of October or a non-healthcare professional (e.g., a beauty clinic) using laser and IPL systems.

The answer to the question is YES; you do need these in place but for some different reasons depending upon who you are.

Firstly, if you are a non-healthcare professional, for example a beauty clinic, using a laser or IPL system to treat clients then, as a workplace you are governed by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSAW Act) and the subsidiary regulations (e.g., the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998). Your principle duty under Section 2 of the Act, as an employer, is to, as far as is reasonably practicable, protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees. In addition, under Section 3, employers must also ensure “so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety”.

These two sections together impose a duty upon all employers (and self-employed people) to protect both workers and “others” from the risks associated with any activity carried on in the business. These cover the equipment provided, satisfactory personal protective equipment, maintenance, installation, use, training, instruction and supervision to name but a few elements and it is the duty of the employer to ensure that the risks have been assessed and in so far as reasonably practicable eliminated, controlled or reduced. In practice, these requirements can only be adequately met by a specialist Laser Protection Adviser.

The above does not affect the additional requirements placed upon therapists by Local Authorities who have in place delegated legislation which allows them to regulate some activities under “Special Treatments Licenses” – the requirements being produced by the Local Authorities under these bylaws seem disparate, sometimes illogical and in a few cases draconian (even by comparison to those issued previously under the CSA 2000). At present this principally affects businesses in and around London, Nottingham and  Manchester although many Local Authorities have the power to issue by-laws and recognise this both as a potentially “risky activity” and one from which they can generate income – one London Authority is now charging £1,750 for a laser/IPL Special Treatments Licenses, even more than the CQC!

If you are a healthcare professional carrying out treatments of disease, disorder or injury using laser and IPL systems and would therefore be required to register with the Care Quality Commission, you still fall under the general duties prescribed by the HSAW Act, however, in addition, under the new Essential Standards for Quality and Safety, you are required to declare that you comply with Standard 11 in that you have a risk assessment for equipment and clear procedures for use (11c), clear procedures issued by experts relating to use of medical devices (11d) and take into account MHRA guidance, which includes DB 2008(03) “Guidance on the safe use of lasers, IPL systems and LEDs”.

Essentially the new regulations and requirements probably enhance the health and safety standards imposed on providers of laser and IPL treatments rather than diminish them!


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