ILSC 2015: Gathering Top Minds in Laser Safety

ILSC_StandardBy Geoff Giordano

A record number of sponsors and the return of a special-topic luncheon will highlight the latest installment of LIA’s intensive four-day International Laser Safety Conference (ILSC®) in New Mexico this March.

Chaired by Dr. John O’Hagan, head of Public Health, England’s Laser and Optical Radiation Dosimetry Group, ILSC 2015 will be held at the Embassy Suites hotel in Albuquerque from Mar. 23-26. Stepping in for past chairman Ben Rockwell due to a professional conflict, O’Hagan notes that “we have a wide range of topics from the basic bioeffects to very practical offerings.”

Following the same format as prior events, dozens of cutting-edge presentations will be featured in three primary tracks: the Laser Safety Scientific Sessions (LSSS) and the Technical and Medical Practical Applications Seminars (TPAS, MPAS). Also scheduled during the week are meetings of various standards committees, bringing together the top minds in the laser safety arena for unequaled networking opportunities.

“The advantage of ILSC is that we have the experienced laser safety professionals and newcomers together for four days,” O’Hagan says. “Each can learn from the other. Newcomers may be bringing new problems to be solved, particularly as lasers continue to be used for new applications. The ubiquitous nature of lasers means that new challenges are always just around the corner.”

Noting that 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light, O’Hagan notes “as we go through the year, we all need to promote the positive aspects of light, including lasers. We hope everyone will get something from the plenary presentations. These will cover a range of issues that we feel will be of interest to all participants. The closing plenary session should give attendees something to think about before the next ILSC.”

Assembling the educational tracks are John Tyrer (LSSS), Thomas Lieb (TPAS) and Vangie Dennis and Leslie Pollard (MPAS). All are veteran LIA presenters and participants with decades of experience.

“We are excited about the unique program we have to offer,” Pollard says about the medical topics being assembled. “Our goal continues to be to provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals to meet and network with peers, share information and attend presentations that will provide diverse perspectives in medical/surgical laser applications and safety.”

Areas the MPAS aims to address include “overviews and new information on the dangers and challenges of tissue laser plume and an overview of cosmetic/dermatologic laser applications,” Pollard explains. “We hope to continue to prepare the audience for the inevitable future of medical laser tools,” including the evolution of semiconductor laser technology. Also scheduled are:

  • An overview of laser-based advances in veterinary science
  • Sessions that address information sharing and laser-compliant programs as individual hospitals shift to large health-care systems
  • An overview of ENT laser safety and an attorney’s perspective on an ENT laser fire incident that went to trial, including insights into the incident, the investigative process and lessons learned
  • Presentations from the mobile provider perspective in terms of offering cost-effective services and novel solutions regarding laser safety and facility compliance to medical facilities.

In addition, the traditional opening-day awards luncheon will honor veteran US laser safety expert Jerome Dennis with the George M. Wilkening award. Dennis spent more than 30 years with the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. LIA presents the Wilkening Award to recognize individuals who have made extensive contributions to laser safety in science, medicine, industry or education. In addition, the R. James Rockwell Jr. Educational Achievement Award will be conferred upon 2013 LSSS chair Karl Schulmeister, a consultant on laser product safety at Seibersdorf Laboratories in Austria. He is technical secretary of the IEC working group responsible for the international laser safety standard IEC 60825-1.

Barbara Sams, executive director of the Board of Laser Safety, is excited to have BLS host the Laser Safety Professionals Luncheon on Wednesday. Absent from ILSC 2013, this year’s lunch — open to all attendees — is co-sponsored by Laser Compliance and will feature an informative panel discussion on Laser Safety Officer (CLSO® and CMLSO®) certifications.

Sams also notes that LIA has expanded sponsorship of various portions of the ILSC 2015 program so more US military personnel can comply with rules for attending professional events and enjoy the entire conference. “We have more sponsors than we have ever had at ILSC,” she says. Platinum sponsors Rockwell Laser Industries and Honeywell are joined by other industry-leading sponsors including ASC Z136, BEAMSTOP’R Laser Barriers, Inc., ICS Laboratories, Innovative Optics, Inc., Kentek Corporation, Laser Compliance, Inc., Laser Product Safety, LLC, Laser Safety Systems, Lighting Systems Design, Inc., Laservision USA, NoIR LaserShields, Ophir-Spiricon LLC, RT Technologies, Spica Technologies, Inc., TASC Inc. and The Boeing Company.

To learn more about ILSC 2015 and to register, visit