CLSO Ritchie Buschow

BLS Featured CLSO: Ritchie Buschow

1. Who are you?

Ritchie Buschow

2. What is your educational background?

Although my Master’s degree is in environmental management I re-entered the Health Physics/Radiation Safety Field in 1995 due to a company layoff.  From 1987-2001, I had received training in radiation protection through the Oak Ridge Associated Universities and UNC-Chapel Hill.

3. Where do you work?

Currently, I work at the U.S. EPA in the Safety, Health, Environmental Management Office at EPA’s largest field site location in Research Triangle Park, NC. Our office provides safety services to researchers who conduct research in health effects from exposure to various pollutants, to air and water quality.


4. When did you start working with lasers?

In my job function, I do not work with the laser equipment as I am the site laser Safety Officer. I first started in laser safety in 2003 after attending a Laser Safety Officer course sponsored by the LIA.


5. How long have you worked with lasers?

I have been the site Laser Safety Officer since 2004.


6. How did you become the LSO?

Through my interest in the field. At a previous job, I dabbled in Laser Safety calculations and became interested in becoming a Laser Safety Officer. When I interviewed for my position at EPA, I told my supervisor of my interest. At that time, there were a few locations at EPA where Class 4 lasers were being used on a more regular basis and he was in need for someone to implement a Laser Safety program.


7. Do you like being the LSO?/Challenges of “today’s” LSO?

I like the challenges of functioning as the site LSO, however, the amount of research conducted with laser equipment has diminished quite a bit since I began with program implementation. At this field site, the program is small with a little under 20 Class 4 laser units. For a few of these units, I consulted with the researcher during the set-up and operation, however, the use of this equipment did not get off the ground very well due to budget constraints, personnel turnover and changes in research direction. For all units that were functional at the time, I undertook the challenge of performing hazard analysis for most. At the present time, many of these units now sit at idle and a few of these have now been sent to property surplus. At the EPA, most lasers are used in particle motion and pollution detection studies. But I am here to await any future studies which may use lasers and provide the safety services needed for safe operation.


8. How has becoming certified helped/benefited you in your career?

I passed the CLSO exam during the summer of 2007. Going through the certification process made me more knowledgeable of laser safety practices and principles. When I first became the LSO at EPA I faced the challenge of learning what this job function was about as I did not have anyone who could mentor me. However, preparing to take the CLSO exam helped out along with my attendance at an advanced course in laser safety as well as additional training seminars attended over the years at the ILSC and Health Physics Society. Here in North Carolina, I have learned from noted colleagues in the field such as Tim Hitchcock and Ben Edwards. In fact, as far as I know, I am the very first person within the entire agency with the CLSO title.

Due to health concerns, the spring CLSO/CMLSO exam is being cancelled and the 2020 DOE workshop has been postponed. The fall exam will be held be held prior to the 2020 DOE workshop on August 17th, 2020. Our office team is working remotely and ready to assist you during our regular business hours!

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