Trends in ... Eye protection

New ideas for a critical piece of safety gear

By Tracy Haas, editorial assistant

Jim Gawinski, eyewear specialist for Albany, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., notes that “it is critical that wearers actually wear their eye protection at all times while on the job.” However, not all workers comply, and that is when potentially devastating eye injuries can occur. To combat non-compliance, new technology is aiming to provide both better protection and more comfort to ensure workers actually wear their personal protective equipment.

“There is an increasing trend towards more task-specific lenses in eye protection,” Gawinski said. “Such products include lenses with anti-reflective coatings that increase the amount of light passing through the lens,” he said, which can help “reduce reflection and glare on the surface of the lens which, in turn, reduces eyestrain and fatigue.”

Products that are a hybrid of safety glasses and goggles are becoming more common in many industries, according to Kevin Beckerdite, product marketing manager for eye and face protection, North and Fibre-Metal Brands, Honeywell Safety Products, Morristown, NJ. Beckerdite said this type of eyewear forms “a seal around the wearer’s eyes for added protection beyond traditional safety spectacles. Its ability to eliminate fine particulate matter from entering the eye, coupled with its low-profile and comfortable fit, address improved safety and support compliance.”

Paul Harris, vice president of global sourcing and product development for MCR Safety, based in Memphis, TN, touted a new type of frame material. “The majority of eyewear frames are either made of polycarbonate, nylon or metal alloy,” he said. “Thermoplastic polyurethane is a newer frame material alternative that is much more flexible. Because of its increased flexibility, eyewear frames made of TPU will accommodate a wider assortment of head shapes and sizes versus traditional materials.” Manufacturers hope that if eye protection fits better, workers will be more likely to wear it.

The comfort factor

Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc., believes focusing on specialized temple features will aid compliance. “Many users of eye protection say that the temples create too much pressure on the sides of their head; the temples pinch the back of the head; or the temples cause their glasses to fall off in hot, sweaty conditions,” she noted. Mielcarek also believes that eyewear products that offer “better fit and comfort – with emphasis on unique temple design – will affect the direct correlation” between comfort and compliance.

A final thought

When asked about how eye products are being misused, Gawinski had this to say: “I would not say that these technologies are being misused as much as they are not being used at all. Part of the reason is ignorance of their existence and part is a reluctance by end-user companies to pay the added cost.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association


Applicable voluntary standard

ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010: American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection Devices

This standard establishes performance criteria and testing requirements for devices used to protect the eyes and face from injuries from impact, non-ionizing radiation and chemical exposure in workplaces and schools. It covers protector configurations, including spectacles (plano and prescription), goggles, faceshields, welding helmets and full facepiece respirators. The standard includes descriptions and general requirements, as well as criteria for testing, marking, selection, use and care. Note that it does not apply to hazardous exposure to bloodborne pathogens, X-rays, high-energy particulate radiation, microwaves, high-frequency radiation, lasers, masers or sports.


Coming next month ...
Respiratory protection

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