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Trends in ... eye protection

August 1, 2012

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Problems and resolutions

By Tracy Haas, editorial assistant

From afar, safety glasses seem pretty similar. Look closer, though, and you may notice subtle differences that can have a huge impact on worker safety and compliance. Here, experts offer their advice on a safety product that is more complicated than it looks.

Addressing problems

Like any personal protective equipment, safety eyewear is sometimes misused or ignored altogether by employees – often because of comfort. “You want to make sure the product has ‘universal’ features in order to fit the mass majority of people,” said Cindi Naylor, PPE business manager for Houston-based Encon Safety Products. “Be aware of the nose bridge and base curvature before purchasing,” she recommended.

Matthew J. Love, vice president for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc., contends that women in particular have been “largely ignored by manufacturers,” particularly when it comes to eyewear. “Most of these women are being forced to ‘make do’ with safety equipment that was designed for men,” Love said. “As a result, these products are poorly fitting and uncomfortable for women.” Love noted that this is changing, as some companies are offering eyewear in smaller sizes, but believes this issue is something female workers need to be aware of.

Rusty Franklin, vice president of sales and marketing for Schaumburg, IL-based Sellstrom Manufacturing Co., noted that wearing the wrong protection for the wrong work hazard is a serious issue. And Peggy Kroesch, marketing/trade marketing manager for Heatherton, Australia-based Bolle Safety/Bolle Tactical/Bushnell Eyewear Division, recently came across this very problem. “For example, not opting for polarized lenses in environments prone to glare can exacerbate hazards,” Kroesch said. “A safety manager we work with reported a near miss when a crane operator who was not wearing polarized protective eyewear lost sight of a crew member due to glare,” she said. To combat this kind of situation, Kroesch recommends using a vendor that “offers a complete range of advanced products for a variety of industries and situations.”

New technologies, better compliance

Eyewear manufacturers are striving to create the perfect fit for workers. “One of the latest forces driving comfort into the design of eye protection products is the science of anthropometry, or individual human measurement,” said Susan Pingree, product line manager, eye/face protection for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA. Pingree explained that using anthropometry helps manufacturers design eyewear “that more closely aligns with the facial contours and shapes of men and women across multiple ethnicities,” especially around the nose and cheeks.

Another important factor in safety eyewear is making sure the lenses do not fog over, which can lead to workers taking off the glasses to clean them or taking them off completely out of frustration – both dangerous options. Kroesh believes that fogging is “perhaps the most prevalent issue with protective eyewear.” She added that “while good design with proper venting can help, a permanent, multilayered anti-fog coating on both sides of the lenses – not one simply spayed on – is the best available solution.”

Finding the correct eyewear for a specific employee and task is a worthwhile endeavor. Your employees will benefit by staying safe while your business benefits from reduced injuries.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month ... Fall protection

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