ORLANDO, FL, Dec. 9, 2011 — Reflecting the increased importance of lasers in manufacturing, medicine and research, the Laser Institute of America’s three-day course for safety officers has bucked recessionary trends to set an attendance record.

A record number of attendees from a broad range of disciplines participated in the Dec. 6-8 workshop created and taught by LIA Education Director Gus Anibarro. The course drew representatives from the Army, Halliburton, SeaWorld, Disney, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and a handful of small laser job shops.

LIA’s three-day Laser Safety Officer Training session addresses the basics of ANSI safety standards, the biological effects of lasers on the eyes and skin, nonbeam hazards, control measures and management of laser-safety programs.  Anibarro instructed laser safety officers (LSOs) on their duties in the more focused version of LIA’s intensive five-day LSO with Hazard Analysis Training course. The latter course, which delves more deeply into the physics of lasers and hazard-analysis calculations, had always been the bigger draw. To further broaden LIA’s educational repertoire, Anibarro created the three-day course, which typically draws average attendee numbers. After a brief dip in attendance during and after the 2008 recession, attendance has surged.

Depending on his audience, Anibarro tailors the case studies he relates to the industries most represented in each workshop. Those anecdotes, in conjunction with video and in-class demonstrations reinforce, the importance of laser safety — particularly when the beam is invisible to the naked eye.

“Most of the eye injuries come from research” during alignment of the laser, Anibarro notes. “In an optical lab you’ve got all kinds of parts — prisms and mirrors and equipment on an optical table — and you’ve got this narrow laser beam bouncing around. If you just slightly turn the mirror, you could potentially reflect that in a direction you don’t want it to go, like toward your eye.”

There were wide spectrums of laser uses represented at this course. No matter whether those lasers are used for industrial welding, entertainment purposes, putting trademarks on products, producing aircraft parts, or as part of fiber optic temperature-sensing equipment used in oil wells, properly trained LSOs are vital to preventing injuries.

“It was well done,” said Michael Steidley, corporate safety manager for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. “The laser technology is rapidly growing, and it’s inserting itself into more and more places. We have lasers in all kinds of applications, from zoological veterinarian uses to entertainment uses to simple bar-code readers. This was a very insightful and helpful class in fine-tuning our laser safety program.”

“We have to start an LSO program here,” said Michael LeBlanc, Scientific Advisor for Halliburton Applied Photonics. “We are a new facility. This course provided us with the right amount of information to get us started with confidence.”

LIA, the recognized leader in laser-safety education since 1968, conducts the three-day LSO course as part of its extensive range of onsite, online, print and multimedia safety resources. Visit www.lia.org to learn more, register for a course or purchase up-to-date laser-safety materials.  For more information about becoming a Certified Laser Safety Officer, visit www.lasersafety.org.

The Laser Institute of America (LIA) is the professional society dedicated to fostering lasers, laser applications and laser safety worldwide. LIA can be reached at:
13501 Ingenuity Drive, Suite 128 • Orlando, Florida 32826
Phone: 407.380.1553 • Fax: 407.380.5588  • http://www.lia.org/store/ANSI