BLS Featured CLSO: Candace Soles
1. Who are you?
My Name is Candace (Candy) Soles. I was born in San Jose, California, and have lived in San Francisco Bay Area all of my life.
2. What is your educational background?
B.A. Geology (San Jose State University); M.S. Environmental Management (University of San Francisco). It took me awhile to earn my degrees because I was always a working student. My first 15 years of work was in the medical field before transitioning to environmental work, and then to occupational health and safety.
3. Where do you work?
Currently, I work for Coherent Inc., Santa Clara, California, as the Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) Manager and LSO. Coherent designs and manufactures a diversified selection of lasers and laser accessories for an ever-broadening range of applications. The Santa Clara facility is corporate headquarters with over 700 employees. Another regulatory function of mine is submitting the necessary reports to the FDA for the laser products that Coherent produces.
4. When did you start working with lasers?/ How long have you worked with lasers?
I began learning about lasers and laser safety when I joined Coherent in April 2001. Before joining Coherent, I had very little knowledge of laser safety (and that changed very quickly).
5. How did you become the LSO?
I became the LSO shortly after joining Coherent, and after attending LSO training through LIA. The role of LSO was inherent to the EH&S Manager’s position.
6. Do you like being the LSO?/Challenges of “today’s” LSO?
Working in laser development and manufacturing always presents interesting challenges. As laser technology becomes more specialized and customer-oriented, one typical challenge is finding single-filter laser safety eyewear for certain laser systems with multiple beam outputs. Laser eyewear for UV, visible (to 532nm) and IR wavelengths are generally readily available; lasers with tighter visible beam outputs, especially for lasers that operate in 488, 532, 572, 578, and/or 660nm. My eyes always widen when an employee asks me for laser eyewear that covers 532 and 660nm, for example, or 488 and 577nm! Fortunately, laser eyewear manufacturers stay abreast of laser trends with new filter models, or they are keen to create custom filters, if needed. A more pressing challenge is ergonomics. Optical tables and build stations can be large in size and working space in R&D labs and on the manufacturing floors is sometimes cramped, so employees may succumb to awkward body postures to tweak and adjust optics for alignment and optimal laser performance. And when under production deadlines, employees may engage in these awkward postures far longer than recommended. My guess is that many LSOs working in manufacturing face similar ergonomic risks and challenges. I like being an LSO, especially when I am successful in helping resolve a laser safety hazard or risk.
7. How has becoming certified helped/benefited you in your career?
I took the certification exam in 2002. This was the first year the exam was offered. At the time of the exam I was not a “seasoned” LSO, and in retrospect, I am very happy that I took the exam when I did. To prepare for the exam I studied in earnest ANSI Z136.1 (for Safe Use of Lasers), went to study sessions, took a practice exam – I learned a lot about laser safety and the governing regulations in a short amount of time. Ken Barat, then LSO at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), was instrumental in my early learning days. He organized study sessions for the first-time CLSO exam takers. Ken also founded the Bay Area Laser Safety Officers (BALSO), a consortium of laser safety officers in northern California who met periodically for learning and networking. Thanks to Ken’s efforts, most BALSO members took (and passed) the CLSO exam in 2002.
The benefits of being certified grow each year. Invitations to join organizations and committees roll in! I have been a member of the Board of Laser Safety (BLS) Board of Commissioners for several years and Secretary to ANSI Z136.9 Subcommittee since 2007. Also, I am the only CLSO at Coherent so I am able to help my LSO colleagues when they face safety-related challenges. I am most satisfied with my work when I am able to take the “laser sting” out of someone’s day.