Kevin started with SOLA OPTICAL in Adelaide in 1972 at a time when the Australian company was rapidly growing its export business in spectacle lenses. His work in Australian and ISO standards started with the support of the Optical Distributors & Manufacturers Association (the peak industry body) and exposed him to the methodologies and new technologies used for lens manufacture around the world.
In 2000 Kevin joined the French based company Essilor who were becoming the global world leader in spectacle lenses. He has been in standards development for over 40 years, serving as an expert, delegation leader, committee member and project leader at both a national and international level.
Standards Australia (SA): How has standards development changed over your 40 years of service?
Kevin O’Connor (KO): Speaking from my experience in the fields of spectacle lens, sunglass and eye protection, both here in Australia and internationally, the process has been improved dramatically over the years.
Today, the platform we have as committee members fosters a professional environment in which the best possible standards can be produced. Standards Australia has always actively embraced new technologies to help the processes of communication and decision making in committees.
At the ISO level, Standards Australia is well respected and can be described as a "best in class" National Body. The shift to managing our work more closely in alignment with ISO standardisation has been a very positive and useful step. More and more we are seeing our committee structures evolving to mirror those of ISO, which of course streamlines the communications and our effective participation in ISO committees.
SA: You’ve contributed to many spectacle lens and eye protection standards, what projects stand out to you?
KO: One highlight would be the Australian creation of the first national sunglass standard in the early 1970's (AS/NZS 1067). This standard led the way for the development of other national sunglass standards and ISO sunglass standards.
Another milestone was the unique creation of the first national standard for prescription eye protectors (AS/NZS 1337.6). Again, Australia gave strong leadership to other national and ISO committees for this important activity. In the prescription spectacles field, it gives me pride to know Australian delegates to the ISO committees have "punched above our weight" and have contributed significantly over many years to the excellent International standards in this field.
SA: Why do you believe international standardisation is important for your industry?
KO: Like many industries, those participating in providing eyewear to patients and consumers, benefit from having standards which provide certainty in terms of the expectation of product attributes and characteristics, including those related to safety.
To have good standards which are globally accepted and adopted means there are reduced costs of regulatory testing and in inventory management which ultimately benefits end-users – all good news for Australia's international trade.
SA: What is the future of standardisation?
KO: I am very confident that standardisation will continue to grow its beneficial roles here in Australia and globally. We are fortunate to be well equipped with high quality leadership in Standards Australia and ISO, with a good level of expertise and commitment of committee members.