9 Mar 16
The Basics of Workplace Eye Protection
To raise awareness about the importance of eye protection, the National Safety Council has designated March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month. If you’re looking for the perfect pair but aren’t sure where to start, here’s your Eye Protection 101.
When it comes to workplace eye safety, the first step is to identify the dangers. Potential jobsite hazards to eyes include (but aren’t limited to):
- Flying Objects: If a task requires cutting, chipping, or grinding, eyes will be exposed to potentially harmful airborne objects.
- Dust: Whether kicked up by wind or work, dusty jobsites can be a real nuisance. Wear snug-fitting glasses and employ engineering controls like guards or wet-cutting methods for extra eye protection.
- Ultraviolet (UV) Light: Exposure to bright ultraviolet (UV) light can inflame the cornea, which causes welder’s flash. Flash burns are like sunburn in the eye and, left untreated, can become infected and cause some vision loss. Workers near welders should wear special screens or shaded lenses to block the flash. If welding, wear specialized welding helmets with rated lenses.
- Chemicals: Workers using chemicals should wear a snug pair of goggles and/or a combination of a face shield and protective eyewear, and consult the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet for the manufacturer’s specific PPE suggestions.
Labeling and Marking
Wear safety glasses marked with ANSI Z87.1 Performance Standard compliance, which indicates tested for impact and coverage, or Z87+, which denotes high impact testing. Some glasses are also tested to a much more rigid U.S. Military impact test, though there is no specific marking required for this. Look for MIL impact glasses to be called out specifically on packaging or in marketing materials.
Fit for a King
Look for safety glasses with removable temples or special system designed to accommodate accessories like elastic bands that keep them snug to your head. This is an especially important feature when used in tandem with a removable foam gasket, a debris entry reducing option available on some nicer safety glasses.
Blocking Mr. Sun
The top safety eyewear lenses on the market are made of polycarbonate materials covered with a scratch-resistant coating that filter out 99.9% of harmful UV rays. There are a range of tints available from lighter tinted indoor/outdoor lenses to dark smoke or copper to a variety of glare-busting mirrored coatings.
A nice pair of safety glasses may cost a little more than a one-size-fits-all option, but if cared for, should last longer. After each use, clean safety eyeglasses with a microfiber cloth and store them securely in a sturdy case.