Take a walk through any work site and you'll notice all the different types of personal protection equipment that workers are wearing.
Finding workers wearing PPE such as hard hats, gloves and ear plugs are a pretty common sight. One of the most common kinds of PPE you will see is safety eye wear, so it may surprise you to learn just how often preventable eye injuries happen on the job.You might ask yourself why eye injuries are so prevalent if the employer is supplying safety glasses and workers are actually wearing them. The answer is simple really: the safety eyewear that is being provided is just not the right protection in all situations.
Not only should safety eye wear meet OSHA’s standard 29 CFR 1910.133 by providing eye wear that is ANSI Z87.1 certified, it should also be suitable for the specific task and hazard it's meant to protect the worker from.
To do this, begin a simple hazard assessment of the likely hazards a worker may face.
Does your work site have any of the following?
- Dust, concrete, cement metal or other particulates?
- Vapor, spray, smoke or other poisonous gas?
- Blood-borne pathogens?
- Fires, welding lights, electrical arcs?
- Building materials and debris that may fall or shift?
How much protection do workers need? What is enough protection? That's a common question, so let’s take a look at some facts before we answer that. Although the number of eye injuries has been on the decline due to employers providing safety glasses and putting PPE programs in place to protect workers, a significant number of eye injuries still occur every year. OSHA estimates that thousands of people are blinded every year from work related eye injuries. Those injuries come at an estimated annual cost of $300 million in medical expenses, lost production and workers compensation.
Upon hearing these numbers most people might think that those workers must not have been wearing their safety glasses. It can be a real kick in the pants to hear that of the injured workers, 40% of them WERE wearing safety eyewear! And 90% of those injuries happened when an object or chemical went around or under the protective glasses.
Foam-backed eye protection may be the better choice for workers when dealing with certain particulates or gases.
3M™ Virtua™ CCS Protective Eyewear with Foam Gasket: The lightweight and comfortable frame features the Cord Control System (CCS) with removable foam gasket. CCS is designed to have a corded earplug attached ready for use.
Go-Specs™ Eye Protection: These lightweight safety goggles are a hybrid between safety glasses and goggles, protecting against dust, impact and UV radiation. Also features impact-resistant lens with SuperCoat™ anti-fog coating, polycarbonate lens and adjustable temples.
Dagger™ Foam-Lined Safety Glasses: The foam padding forms to the face for a better seal, ideal for non-chemical and dust environments. Glasses feature polycarbonate lens that provides impact resistance and 99.9% UV protection.Rather than leaving exposed areas around the delicate eye area, choosing glasses that not only fit well, but have foam gaskets, creates a better seal on the face. The bigger the gap around the glasses, the more opportunity there is for debris and hazards to enter the eye area. And because no one person has the same shape and size face, the additional foam protection allows for a better, more snug fit.
Prevent accidents with these simple tips:
- Ensure eyewear is well-fitting, looks great and is comfortable, so that workers actually wear eye protection!
- Make sure protective eyewear has anti-fog lenses and proper ventilation
- Give workers a variety of choices of different styles and fits
- Provide eyewear straps so that workers can always have safety eyewear nearby
- Train workers on the importance of using proper PPE
- Set a good example by wearing the right protection yourself!
Industries like mining, manufacturing, construction and automotive are particularly demanding environments and workers’ eyes should be protected. Eye injuries on the job are nothing to play around with. By not providing the correct safety protection, not only are you opening yourself up to potential lawsuits, medical expenses and lost production; you also run the risk of a worker losing their eyesight. If a worker loses their sight or has limited sight, chances are they will never be able to work in that job again. That’s a pretty heavy thing to be responsible for. Make sure you cover any gaps you have in your PPE program by choosing the right safety eye wear.
Safety: It's Your Life, It's Our Business