Keeping an Eye on Safety

ThinkstockPhotos 200476978 001
By Jeffrey Gayer
According to a report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the construction and manufacturing industries are the sources of the most job related eye injuries in the U.S.  These workplace eye injuries range from simple eye strain to severe trauma, which can cause permanent damage or blindness, requiring emergency attention.  However, “90 percent of all workplace eye injuries are preventable with the appropriate eye protection,” the AAO says.
So if 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable, why do workers not wear protective eye gear? There are three primary reasons why workers’ eyes remain unprotected:
Many workers do not wear proper eye protection on the job very simply because they do not like how the eye gear looks. To increase compliance, astute manufacturers of protective eye wear have begun re-styling their product line so that it mirrors fashion eyewear trends.  
The “designer” look apparently has helped encourage compliance.
As important as it is to have “the look,” what is even more important is for the protective eyewear to be comfortable.  Especially in a workplace that has become increasingly diverse, one size simply does not fit all.  To address this, some manufacturers have developed eye gear for larger and smaller facial structures; eyewear that has more adjustment options; and even eye gear that provides reading magnification.  
Finally, despite the important role it plays in protecting and preventing eye injuries, some eye gear is simply not manufactured with the quality and durability necessary for workers in many workplace settings. Workers tend to stop wearing eye gear when it continually loses its shape, is easily broken, does not stay properly positioned on the face, or becomes uncomfortable over time. 
Because we now know some of the reasons why workers do not wear protective eye gear, it actually is relatively easy to select eye gear that does get worn on the job.  The following steps should help employers:
  • While purchasers are often advised not to make selections based on the look of a product, when it comes to workplace eye gear it is wise to start with the look; if it looks good, it is much more likely to be worn.
  • Look for lenses and frames made of 100 percent virgin polycarbonate and nylon materials and, very important, with no fillers. This type of protective eye gear is very durable, almost indestructible, and will hold its shape under most all types of work situations.
  • Finally, do not take the manufacturer’s word for the effectiveness of the eye gear.  Some protective eyewear has been independently tested and certified by third-party organizations. The testing procedure ensures the eye gear meet or exceed the highest industry safety standards. 
Jeffrey Gayer is vice president of product development & marketing for Impact Products, LLC.  Impact Products is a leading manufacturer of professional cleaning tools and equipment and also markets a wide-range of safety products and protective gear for workers in a variety of industries, from cleaning and construction, to food service.  

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