Trends in ... eye protection
Don't be a statistic
In 2011, 5,170 eye injuries involving cases with days away from work* occurred in the manufacturing industry, according to the 2014 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” That same year, the construction industry recorded 2,660 eye injuries. Many occupational eye injuries can be prevented if the correct eye protection is worn.
Regarding new technologies in eye protection, “specialty lens colors are becoming more prevalent in the market since specifying the right product for the job is being pushed,” said Shannon Owens, vice president of procurement and operations for Memphis-based Radians Inc. “For instance, light blue lenses help reduce glare from artificial light such as halogen and fluorescents.”
Jim Gawinski, product development, safety eyewear, for Albany, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., touted advancements in lens technology to help address eye stress that stems from looking at computers all day. “Consistent exposure to glare and small type can cause eyestrain and stress called ‘digital eye stress,’” Gawinski said. To combat this, he said, “lens coatings are being developed that reduce stress and can help prevent headaches and blurred vision.” As an example, he said an indoor and outdoor blue lens coating can help filter blue light rays to ease eyestrain and headaches.
How can employers help ensure their workers are wearing proper personal protective equipment? According to industry experts, the old standby of “knowledge is power” holds true. “Companies tend to focus on the bottom line,” said Mike Myrick, product trainer and analyst for Collierville, TN-based MCR Safety. “This is causing some safety directors to resort to buying uncoated lenses in order to save money.” Myrick cautioned that buying uncoated lenses can result in lens scratching and fogging, causing reduced visibility for workers – which may lead to them removing the eyewear altogether.
Gawinski said safety officers should research and understand new offerings on the market to increase knowledge of new products. “This can be achieved through supplier catalogs and websites or product training seminars and trade show attendance,” he said.
When it comes to increasing compliance, Owens recommends picking the correct eyewear for each worker. “The fit of safety eyewear and the features that provide extra comfort, such as rubber nosepieces, are always frontline factors, especially when safety eyewear has to be worn all day,” he said.
The most important aspect of proper-fitting eye protection is the nose bridge, according to Gawinski, noting that workers look down often throughout the day to perform tasks. “Without a proper-fitting nose bridge, eyewear can slide down and cause pressure on the nose and behind the ears,” he said.
Myrick summed up the importance of comfort: “Bottom line, if the wearer is not comfortable with the eye protection, they will not wear it.”
*Days-away-from-work cases include those that result in days away from work with or without job transfer or restriction.
Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association