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Eyewear safety programs

April 1, 2011

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Question: How can we develop an effective safety eyewear program for both prescription and non-prescription wearers?

Responding is Rob Maser, commercial sales director, Wiley X, Livermore, CA.

Answer: Several components are necessary for a strong safety eyewear program, including identifying exposures to eye injuries. Two key components for a well-built program are integrating eye care professionals into your program and offering the proper safety eyewear products to workers.

With the aging population in the United States today, many workers require prescription safety glasses. An effective way to develop a strong safety eyewear program is to partner with a local optical practice to serve as your eyecare expert. More optical practices are becoming involved with employers’ safety programs because ECPs believe their expertise is valuable and they recognize employers can be a healthy source of new patient growth. 

First, research the local professional optical community. Talk with other commercial and industrial employers in your area about their optical resources. Contact your safety eyewear supplier and ask what optical practices they recommend. Identify optical practices with strong industrial safety experience and invite them to tour your operations and help them assess your eye injury exposures. Once they have a good understanding of your workers’ exposures, the ECP should be able to propose a customized safety eye care approach for you and determine which ANSI Z87.1 safety glasses are best suited to your workers.

Regardless of whether workers need prescription or non-prescription safety glasses, opticians can ensure workers are fitted with proper eyewear. Because all safety glasses do not fit all faces, opticians will assess workers and ensure the proper frame and lens type is selected for the worker’s face and eye injury exposures. If there is a lot of flying debris in the work area, the optician can help select a close-fitting wrap style with a removable foam insert.

If glare is a primary concern, the optician can ensure the worker is fitted not only with the proper frame, but also the necessary polarized lenses to best cut glare. If a worker operates both indoors and outdoors, the optician can select the proper-fitting frame with a photochromic lens that changes from light to dark, depending on the intensity of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Many eye injuries occur because workers do not wear safety glasses. The style of glasses best suited for workers not only depends on the exposures to injury, but also whether workers like the glasses they are wearing.

Editor's Note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as National Safety Council endorsements.

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