6th Annual LSO Workshop Overview – the BLS Perspective

The 6th Annual LSO Workshop was held July 27-29, 2010 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Berkeley, Calif. Hosted by Ken Barat, this year’s workshop promised to provide “presentations on topics not found in standard laser safety training and solutions to real-world safety issues.”

The workshop certainly delivered with its invited papers (the opening presentation by Professor Charles Townes was one of the highlights of the meeting), panel discussions (which allowed attendees to raise questions and examine best practices), mini-workshop sessions on laser hazard software (attendees sought answers to their problems and manufacturers received direct user feedback), and countless opportunities for networking (including a tour of the Advanced Light Source).

Along with the laser hazard software vendors, the Board of Laser Safety (BLS) hosted a mini-workshop session. This was an opportunity for those interested in becoming certified to ask questions to the certified laser safety officers (CLSOs) in attendance, in addition to receiving basic information on the certification process. The session went extremely well; the interaction between prospective candidates and CLSOs was phenomenal. One of the newer CLSOs stated, “I really enjoyed the BLS mini-workshop and would like to see it be a part of a formal presentation at future workshops. Meeting other CLSOs and the development of new relationships with some of those folks was the greatest benefit to participating in the workshop for me.”

The following comments were received from CLSOs in attendance.

On Charles Townes:

“This year was especially memorable since Dr. Charles Townes was the plenary speaker… workshop attendees got an extra bonus when he [Dr. Townes] shared his perspective on the importance laser research has made to the advancement of our nation’s science and technology.”

Favorite presentation:

Many of the attendees felt the favorite presentation was “The Personal Laser Injury Story” from Nicholas Matlis. “This presentation was far more powerful than reading an accident report could ever be… It was interesting because his story is so typical about what really goes on with laser users… It was very impactful for me as a laser safety officer – getting a first-hand perspective on the experience and an injured worker’s take on what went wrong and how to avoid similar events in the future.”

The Workshop as a Whole:

“The Annual LSO Workshop feels like a reunion – bringing together a bunch of folks with whom you really enjoy hanging out – exchanging worries and solutions and sharing best practices. The networking opportunities abound at the LSO workshop – plenty of time to set aside for visiting with your peers from other national laboratories, from industry and from the universities… It is the opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new ones, which is very important to me. It’s not often us ‘laser safety geeks’ get a chance to talk with others about issues in our profession we have in common.”

“The conference gave us a glimpse into our future as Laser Safety Officers, what we could expect in the next 8 or so years. What problems we could face as safety professionals as lasers become more powerful and faster, terawatt lasers, attosecond lasers or complex, white light lasers, desk top linear accelerators… It’s a place where people understand what you are talking about, who actually care and have faced the same or similar issues. It’s a place where old friends get together with new friends to talk laser safety like nobody else does at your workplace…

Next year I’d say ‘Be there or be left behind in its wake’.”

With appreciation to Bob Carranza, Jamie King, Barb O’Kane, Patrick Patterson, Bob Sarason, Cathi Scogin, and Candy Soles for contributing their thoughts on the workshop. And to Ken Barat for putting the workshop together, from the initial concept six years ago through every step of this year’s event and more – thank you.

About the Author
Steven Glover is a proud member of the LIA staff. When he is not at work he is actively involved in several charitable efforts.
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