ILSC 2017


A Rich Platform for Building Safer Environments

By Michelle Williams

The world’s leading conference on laser safety returns in 2017, drawing professionals from a variety of industry backgrounds ranging from nurses and applications engineers to researchers and even government and military personnel. LIA’s biennial International Laser Safety Conference (ILSC®) will be held  on Mar. 20-23, 2017 at the Sheraton® Atlanta Airport Hotel in Atlanta, GA, with the goal of educating laser safety personnel on everything from bioeffects research to the best practices for Laser Safety Officers (LSOs).

Successfully prepared again by General Chair John O’Hagan of Public Health England, ILSC 2017 is comprised of three main parts: Laser Safety Scientific Sessions (LSSS), Medical Practical Applications Seminar (MPAS) and the Technical Practical Applications Seminar (TPAS). When asked about the value that ILSC brings to its attendees, O’Hagan said that the conference “provides a unique opportunity for both experienced laser safety specialists and newcomers to get together over four days. It attracts attendees from around the world, so that experiences can be shared, lessons learned and hopefully workplaces containing lasers are safe.”

A new addition to this year’s ILSC are the two Opening Plenary speakers who are both clinicians. “Jacques Abramowicz will speak about the World Health Organization task to develop Basic Safety Requirements and Fundamental Safety Principles for non-ionizing radiation, including laser radiation. Jeff Luttrull, who is an expert in diseases and surgery of the retina and vitreous, will talk about how lasers can be used to prevent blindness,” remarked O’Hagan.

Every year, the LSSS addresses developments in regulatory, mandatory and voluntary safety standards for laser products and laser use. Chaired by Karl Schulmeister of Seibersdorf Laboratories, he emphasizes that the ILSC Scientific Sessions will continue to cover the most important topics to its attendees — including laser product safety, bioeffects, injury thresholds for the varying tissues of the eye and skin, as well as eyewear, outdoor lasers, high power lasers, materials processing and broadband incoherent radiation.

Dr. Schulmeister also noted that there are many first-time presenters contributing to the LSSS this year, “which shows that the interest and the ‘discipline’ of laser safety is ever growing and developing — away from the historical main interest in user precautions to the safety of products, particularly of consumer products which will be soon ubiquitous.”


The Medical and Technical PAS are designed to complement the Scientific Sessions by exploring everyday scenarios that the LSO and MLSO could encounter. The Medical PAS is a two-day seminar that will take place Mar. 20-21 and be Co-Chaired by Kay Ball (Otterbein University) and Certified Medical Laser Safety Officers (CMLSOs) Vangie Dennis (Emory Healthcare), Patti Owens (AestheticMed Consulting International), and Leslie Pollard (Southwest Innovative Solutions, Inc.), who have constructed this seminar around the theme of Laser Safety: More than Smoke and Mirrors. The MPAS will be particularly useful for MLSOs who work in operating rooms, surgical centers, aesthetic clinics and medical spas.

“Day one will include pertinent information regarding the hazards of surgical smoke and plume. The latest research will be presented,” stated Owens. “Analyzing the toxicity of surgical plume, the impact of chronic exposure to second hand smoke, recommended respiratory protection, new international initiatives and organizations, along with future legislation for management of this health hazard.”

Owens went on to add that “the second stimulating day will focus on management of collimated medical devices with exciting lectures addressing new applications of innovative laser technology, retinal and corneal injuries from exposure to lasers and Intense Pulsed Light, veterinary utilization of medical laser devices, Low Level Light therapy and PDT. Also, the role of the laser safety officer and how to produce positive safety outcomes for both staff and patient will be explored.”

According to Kay Ball, “ILSC 2017 offers learning and networking opportunities to help health care professionals meet the challenges of laser technology. Advancements and exciting new information will be highlighted, while experts will be able to share their knowledge and experiences.”

The two-day Technical PAS, on Mar. 22-23, is expected to provide LSOs with the knowledge they need to address more common laser safety issues and concerns for day-to-day operations in manufacturing, research and product development, as well as laser safety training and program setup. Co-Chairs and Certified Laser Safety Officers (CLSOs) Eddie Ciprazo (UC Berkeley) and Jamie King (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), are focusing on just that with the motif of Back to the Basics – Laser Safety 101.

Topics covered in the Technical PAS will range from determining Nominal Hazard Zones (NZH) to laser eye protection selection to what regulations apply. This seminar will start off on Wednesday with So You are the LSO, Now What? and will conclude on Thursday with Resources for the LSO, Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. The newest and most anticipated addition to this year’s TPAS will be an open forum panel discussion with the FDA.

According to King, LSOs of all experience levels will leave this seminar with a variety of valuable information. “From basic optics to cutting edge technologies and everything in between, it’s here.”

Additional highlights at ILSC include the Welcome Reception on Sunday, Mar. 19 at 4pm and the Awards Luncheon, taking place on Monday, Mar. 20 at 12pm. This two hour luncheon includes the presentation of the Wilkening and Rockwell awards. The Wilkening Award is being presented to Wesley J. Marshall of Laser Safety Specialties, recognizing his outstanding contributions to laser bioeffects research, development of human exposure limits and safety standards, and to applied laser safety. This year, the Rockwell Award is being bestowed on none other than ILSC General Chair John O’Hagan, for his outstanding contributions to laser safety education.

Attendees can expect plenty of networking opportunities at ILSC, promises O’Hagan. “Those new to laser safety can hear from world experts and build up their networks. Experienced laser safety professionals get the opportunity to hear about the latest research on bioeffects and practical solutions to laser safety problems. Having attended ILSC, you become part of a community, which can provide guidance and support throughout your laser safety career.”


In addition to attending the seminars, the CLSO/CMLSO Appreciation Reception will be another great opportunity to hear first-hand from certified laser safety professionals. Taking place on Monday, Mar. 20, this reception honors LSOs with 10+ years of certification. Anyone with certification or an interest in LSO certification is welcome to attend.

Another networking opportunity for attendees to take advantage of is the Sponsor Reception on Tuesday evening, Mar. 21, from 5-7:30pm. This is the perfect time to interact with key safety companies including longtime Platinum Sponsors Honeywell Safety Products and Rockwell Laser Industries; Gold Sponsors ASC Z136, Kentek Corporation and Lighting Systems Design, Inc.; Silver Sponsors Buffalo Filter and Engility Corporation; and Bronze Sponsors BEAMSTOP’R Laser Barriers, Inc., Laser Safety Systems, LASERVISION USA, NoIR LaserShields, Ophir-Spiricon LLC and RT Technologies Inc.

“We look forward to welcoming friends to Atlanta for ILSC 2017,” says O’Hagan. “If you haven’t been before, make sure you say hello!”

For more information and to register for ILSC 2017, visit