Product Focus: Eye protection

Trends in ... eye protection

Advancements

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In 2014, nearly 24,000 eye injuries involving days away from work occurred, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states. Workplace-related eye injuries can have lasting and devastating consequences. However, they’re preventable. Here, industry insiders describe what’s new in eye protection safety, and what you need to remember.

What’s new

One new trend in eye safety is geared toward older workers, according to Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc. “Bifocal safety eyewear allows workers to clearly read instrumentation, work with small parts or perform other close tasks without removing a pair of safety glasses,” Mielcarek said. “Workers in environments in which eye protection is required cannot switch between regular safety glasses and reading glasses without creating a moment – or more – of non-compliance that can result in serious eye injury.”

Mielcarek recommends that employers provide a variety of bifocal safety eyewear options for workers. “If employers are not making bifocal safety glasses an option for these aging workers,” she said, “they could be putting their employees at serious risk.”

Ashley Gaworski, contractor marketing manager for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA, spoke of the benefits of anti-fogging technology in safety eyewear. However, Gaworski noted something to watch out for: “There is currently no formulation requirements or test criteria for anti-fog coatings; therefore, there is a lack of consistency in coatings throughout the market,” she said.

Kurt Matejka, product manager for safety eyewear products at Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., also spoke of new technology geared toward lenses. “Lens technologies and treatments have advanced greatly in recent years,” Matejka said. “With new lens technologies that reduce glare and improve clarity, wearers of these new safety eyewear products can greatly improve safety, increase productivity, and enjoy less stress and fatigue on the job.”

Integrating eye protection into other types of personal protective equipment is another recent development, notes Stacey Simmons, product manager for industrial head and face protection products at Cynthiana, KY-based Bullard. “Integration of eye protection with other PPE items, such as the hard hat, is the latest trend,” Simmons stated. “This ensures workers are fully protected against changing hazards, including falling objects, flying sparks, chemicals, or excessive heat. Other technologies include visor materials that are not only high impact rated but also chemical splash-resistant.”

Advice

Eye protection is “the last line of defense,” according to Andy Olson, associate product director for Ergodyne in St. Paul, MN.

“Wherever possible, workers should eliminate or substitute the eye injury hazard, and implement best practices and training to further reduce hazard exposure,” Olson stated. He went on to say that workers should have options pertaining to their safety eyewear, and that style and fit matter to workers. “Though this may require purchasing more expensive safety glasses, the investment is worth it if it helps prevent even one additional eye injury on the jobsite,” Olson said.

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Respiratory protection

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association