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Product Code: JLA_9_4_189

Sidney S. Charschan
Charschan Associates, 7351 Kinghurst Drive, Delray Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

In the early 1960s concerns about eye safety were concentrated in a handful of research laboratories and the military. Memoranda and guidelines were circulated internally with their own set of priorities and recommended practices. Then, in 1968, the First International Laser Safety Conference (the brainchild of Dr Leon Goldman), was held in Cincinnati with one of its avowed purposes, the development of a consensus among the most prominent investigators as to what exposure criteria should be adopted. They saw the (laser) light. By 1969 it had become clear that, because of widespread differences in the many laser safety practices, a national consensus standard was needed. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) was requested by the US Department of Labor to initiate that project, and the Z136 committee began its work under Chairman George Wilkening. And, I was his secretary. The secretariat was the Telephone Group. It gives me great pleasure to point out that three of the original subcommittee chairs, R. James Rockwell Jr, David H. Sliney, and Myron I. Wolbarsht, are still actively committed to the Z136 Committee and the International Laser Safety Conference '97. One last final note: George M. Wilkening died June 30, 1995. The Laser Institute of America, Secretariat to the Z136 Committee, has established a ‘Wilkening’ Award for Laser Safety which was awarded March 17, 1997, at the meeting of the ILSC'97 in Orlando FL, to Dr W. T. Ham. Wilkening's dedication to laser safety lives on in Z136, and indeed throughout the world. He will be remembered as a tall man (6′6″) whose legs over‐hung the beds on his travels, whose airplane seats were never big enough, whose technical knowledge of industrial health and safety was surpassed by none, and who always took the time to educate and explain. A great leader, a mediator, and a friend! We were told by ANSI that the ANSI Z136.1 standard ‘for the Safe Use of Lasers’ was completed in record time — only three years to final draft and publication in 1973. Since those early hectic days, the ASC Z136 Committee has revised and updated Z136.1 in 1976, 1980, 1986, and 1993. These we will touch upon. Meanwhile, the ASC Z136 Committee has issued, updated and is working on five other ANSI Z136.X standards. These standards have served as models for state, federal and international laser safety documents throughout the world.


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