The UNSW Optics and Radiometry Laboratory (ORLAB) is a testing, calibration and research facility within the School of Optometry and Vision Science. ORLAB is certified by NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) and provides services both locally and internationally to industry, Government organisations and universities in light, colour and optical testing. The testing is carried out to meet specific standards (Australian and international) and includes eye and face protection, building products (pavers for solar reflectance) and lighting products (including those associated with transport, such as traffic signalling and warning signs).
2021 was a challenging year for the ORLAB operation. As the only NATA accredited laboratory in Australia that carries out full eye protector testing to the Australian, American, and international eye protector standards, ORLAB’s work was critical to the medical industry at the height of the pandemic, in particular the COVID-PPE gear testing was in demand.
Fortunately, the lab was able to avoid a complete shutdown by working with reduced staff levels and adhering to stringent risk management protocols.
ORLAB completed testing for many variations of face shields currently used by healthcare workers, nurses and doctors, including those requiring protection against aerosols (for example, staff working in ICU wards with COVID patients).
Once the health order restrictions began to ease, we resumed our services with limited capacity that included calibrating illuminance and luminance meters, traffic lights and building products.
Although operations are far from back to normal and likely to remain that way for some time, fortunately, the team has adapted well to this new norm. Staff continue to rotate between working from home and on-site under a proactive A/B team split policy that significantly reduces the risk of workforce shortages.
Staff meetings continue to be held online. Despite working under limited capacity, ORLAB operations continue. The journey was arduous, but the outcome taught a valuable lesson. As a team, ORLAB has shown its resilience to various challenges.
We look forward to the year to come!
Dr Maitreyee Roy