Product Focus: Eye protection

Trends in ... eye protection

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Workplace-related eye injuries often are caused by one of two things: Workers aren’t wearing eye protection at the time of the incident, or they’re wearing the wrong kind of protection for the task at hand, according to the American Optometric Association. Here, eye protection industry insiders explain what’s new in the eye safety field, as well as offer advice for keeping workers safe.

Advancements

A common problem with any type of eyewear is lens fogging. And what do most people do when their glasses fog up? They take them off. But removing safety glasses on the job can result in injuries. Safety eyewear manufacturers are working to tackle this issue. “Advancements in anti-fog technology are doing a better job than ever of addressing a common issue across industry – fogged lenses caused by high levels of activity, rapid temperature changes and other environmental factors,” said Jim Grider, product manager for St. Paul, MN-based Ergodyne. “There are several methods manufacturers use to make an ‘anti-fog’ lens, from simple topical treatments on the lens surface to actual ‘baked-in’ processes that can last for the life of the eyewear.”

Another recent trend is purchasing prescription safety eyewear online, according to J.P. Sankpill, general manager for Kansas City, MO-based U.S. Safety, an MCR Safety brand. “The main advantage of digital progressive lenses is the greatly enhanced accuracy to the patient’s prescription and the range of lens designs specific to individual needs,” Sankpill said. “This can be a tremendous benefit when combined with a face-to-face consultation by an eye care professional and a proper fitting, both in the ordering and fitting of completed glasses.”

However, Sankpill cautioned that although buying prescription safety eyewear online can be convenient, workers risk a “less than optimal choice of lens” without an in-person consultation.

Also, manufacturers are integrating eye protection with other forms of personal protective equipment, including hard hats, notes Stacey Simmons, product manager for industrial head and face protection products at Cynthiana, KY-based Bullard. “Integrated eye protection ensures workers are protected from on-the-job hazards such as falling objects, flying sparks, chemicals or excessive heat,” Simmons said. “Visor materials that are not only high impact-rated but also chemical splash-resistant offer options to workers in environments that require both forms of protection.”

Advice

Cost is an important factor when it comes to safety eyewear, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. “It’s important for safety buyers and employers to evaluate features and benefits in relation to compliance versus cost,” said Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc. “Distributing cheap, poor quality safety eyewear often costs more in the long run, once compared to the cost of an employee eye injury.”

Another aspect to keep in mind is using the correct safety eyewear for the correct application. “Making sure the available lens tints match the lighting environment is very important – whether indoors or outdoors,” said Kurt Matejka, product manager, eye and face protection, for Latham, NY-headquartered Protective Industrial Products Inc. Matejka also notes that safety eyewear is not one-size-fits-all. “Safety glasses that do not fit correctly or cause discomfort to the wearer will not be worn, increasing the risk of injury,” he said.

And don’t forget to follow the rules. “Always wear eye protection products exactly as the manufacturer has specified to help prevent injuries,” Simmons said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:
Respiratory protection
Safety tools and lighting

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