ORLANDO, FL, October 18, 2012 — On the heels of the release of a new standard to ensure the0 safe use of lasers in the research and development environment, the Laser Institute of America has announced a new course for safety officers based on that standard.

Taught by Ken Barat, chairman of the sub-committee that put together the ANSI Z136.8, Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing standard, the new LIA course will prepare LSOs to oversee the safe use of laser systems in oftentimes ad hoc situations.

“One of the things we’re going to cover is who is responsible for safety at these facilities,” according to Gus Anibarro, LIA’s education director.  “We’ll discuss the duties of the LSO, and talk about some traditional laser basics to some degree in case it’s not a research scientist or research professor who is the laser safety officer — more than likely it will be someone in health and safety.  We’ll also talk about how to respond to accidents, as well as the elements of a sound safety program.”

The inaugural session will be held December 12-14 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, home to the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL), which has more than 50 labs and is minutes from LIA headquarters.

Given that research environments often feature “home-built” lasers, the course will teach research LSOs how to characterize such devices, as well as give examples of how to set up labs and establish control measures to mitigate hazards.  The emphasis on properly assessing such lasers is even more critical in the Wild West atmosphere of research as opposed to, say, in a stable, regulated production line.

“In the graduate program at CREOL, the students are taught how to build a laser,” Anibarro says.  “They have a machine shop on the premises.  Either someone does the machine work for them, or they learn how to use the equipment to make the laser system.  From a safety point of view, if you’re the laser safety officer and you discover a laser that has not been classified, that’s not a good thing.  The classification tells you the level of hazard that exists; if they’re making lasers and not classifying, how are you going to determine what control measures to put in?  The class of the laser is important to understand.”

Research LSOs can either do the mathematical calculations to properly classify lasers, or rely on research scientists or consultants, Anibarro notes, in accordance with the Z136.1 standard.  LIA’s new course provides a roadmap for navigating what might be uncharted territory for someone who is appointed an LSO.

This isn’t the first time LIA, the acknowledged authority on laser safety resources since 1968, has offered such a course on laser safety in the lab.  But with the increasing adoption of lasers in research applications, the need is greater than ever. The new course is tailored to graduate-level programs in physics, chemistry and electro-optics, as well as to Department of Energy research facilities, Anibarro says. The program will also be ideal for private research facilities, such as those found at major players in the laser landscape like Boeing or Lockheed Martin and current LSOs who would like a refresher course.

To register for the first Laser Safety Officer Training for Research &Development session, visit www.lia.org.  The cost is $795 member/ $895 nonmember.