Eye Protection

Trends in ... eye protection

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More than 20,000 workplace eye injuries occur every year in the United States, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and OSHA estimates that occupational eye injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and workers’ compensation.

Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new in the eye protection field and how workers can stay safe.

What’s new

Integrating eye protection with other personal protective equipment continues to be a growing industry trend, said Stacey Simmons, product manager for industrial head and face protection products at Cynthiana, KY-based Bullard.

“Integrated eye protection ensures workers are fully protected from on-the-job hazards such as falling objects, flying sparks, chemicals or excessive heat,” Simmons said, noting that “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.”

Greg Schrab, senior vice president of operations and product management at St. Paul, MN-based Ergodyne, pointed out that fog reduction and elimination is now a “must-have” feature for safety eyewear, particularly in the winter months. “But beware of varying types and degrees of ‘anti-fog’ technology,” Schrab cautioned. “Is it merely treatment that can be worn away over time, or inherent, lasting protection built into the lens that will perform and last?”

Wanda Sanchez-Miller, senior product marketing manager for Smithfield, RI-based Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions’ Uvex Safety Eyewear Business, also spoke of the importance of anti-fog coatings and technology, stating that “the strategic placement of indirect venting now found on some spectacles further reduces the dangerous effects of fog.” And Kurt Matejka, product manager, eye and face protection, for Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., noted that, when addressing the additional costs involved, “premium anti-fog coatings may not be for every worker at a facility, but for those in environments that really call for it.”

Beware of noncompliance

Highlighting the fact that nearly 2,000 work-related eye injuries occur daily, Schrab pointed to noncompliance as one of the root causes. “While there are several reasons for it, chief among them are poor function, improper fit and next-to-no fashion,” he said. Sanchez-Miller also spoke about noncompliance being a serious issue. “The best way to combat noncompliance is by selecting eyewear that provides the appropriate type of protection; comes in attractive styling; ensures a comfortable, personal fit; and is coated with a leading anti-fog solution for a safe, clear view,” she said.

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