My name is Jamie King and I am the Laser Safety Officer for the National Ignition Facility and Photon Science (NIF&PS) Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
I was introduced to laser safety back in 1991, while working in the Health Physics Group at NASA-Ames Research Center. The use of radioactive material in research was in a decline, so when I was asked if I was interested in laser safety I took the leap. I spent nearly nine years there working on laser safety issues ranging from laboratories and large wind tunnels to propagating beams into navigable airspace from research aircrafts. This was prior to the development of ANSI Z136.6.
Becoming an LSO and CLSO
I next moved to Sandia National Laboratories-California where I spent six years as the LSO. Lasers are primarily used at this facility in combustion and other energy research. In 2006 I became the LSO for NIF&PS at LLNL. My current position is not only challenging and rewarding, it is exciting. On the NIF side, we have the largest and most energetic laser in the world where expectation is to obtain fusion in 2010. On the Photon Science side, I am challenged with keeping cutting edge laser research safe. I feel very fortunate to be part of these first class teams.
Being certified has really benefited my career. Along with being a requirement to be the LSO at NIF&PS, it has allowed me to easily network with other CLSOs. This is especially useful when dealing with many of the unique challenges found in today’s laser research. There is an expectation that comes along with certification. I know that if I send any of my laser workers to a facility, and the LSO is certified, they will be safe.
Today, laser safety is treated not just as a collateral duty of a health physicist, industrial hygienist or industrial safety engineer, it stands on its own. Lasers are still the future, but because of certification there is respectability in the practice that I feel was not there when I began my career in laser safety over eighteen years ago.