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Features and Fit Make the Difference in Safety Eyewear

Contributed by: Wiley X

Protective eyewear must be worn correctly and consistently in order to be effective. Photo courtesy: Wiley X

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key item in the hierarchy of controls OSHA spells out for making workplaces as safe as possible. Along with the engineering and administrative controls, PPE is necessary in a variety of hazardous work environments and for specific tasks. It includes everything from hard hats to high visibility vests; garments, gear and pieces of equipment that are designed to protect the wearer from safety hazards. Safety eyewear, like all PPE, can be a substantial budgetary line item in an industrial setting and workplace. In order to make sure that companies are getting the best value for their eye protection expenditures, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind. Selecting and using effective eye protection involves both management and the end user. Careful consideration at the front end of the purchase can often be worth far more than the cost of the gear itself.

“Every day, companies spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on PPE to keep their workers safe. The one item that I believe is most important but is invested in the least is safety eyewear.” – Brady Odom, Wiley X

Top Considerations

  • Application
  • Associated hazard
  • Fit
  • Features

Not all eyewear is created equally, of course, and there’s a lot to think about before purchasing it for your employees. It begins with identifying the application and the hazards associated with the job. Where will it be used and why? Will your employees need protection in the office, in the field or on the jobsite? What specific hazards do they need protection against?

Which Safety Features Do You Need?

  • Make sure the eyewear you’re purchasing has been built and tested to meet required standards for your industry. Photo courtesy: Wiley X

    Certifications/ratings

  • Venting/anti-fogging
  • Side shields
  • Gaskets
  • Filters
  • Straps
  • Hinges
  • Composition
  • High-wrap
  • Prescriptions

The answers to all of these questions about where and why you require protection will inform your decisions about the kind—and the level—of the protection you should purchase. Certain features can make or break the deal in industrial environments. Knowing which ones do what will be an important part of the decision-making process. If a worker is likely to be exposed to airborne particulates, for instance, buying eyewear without an irritant-blocking gasket won’t offer as much protection as glasses or goggles with one. 

Where and why you require protection will inform your decisions about the kind—and the level—of the eye protection you should purchase. Photo courtesy: Wiley X

Assurance that the eyewear you’re purchasing has been built and tested to meet required standards for your industry is also critical and should be considered a feature to prioritize when choosing your level of protection. For example, in workplaces where being struck by flying fragments, objects, large chips and particles is a possibility, be sure the frames and lenses been tested to withstand the impact of a projectile.

Some activities may require side shields, which provide angular protection from impact hazards in addition to frontal protection. Side shields may be full or semi (flat fold), removable or permanently attached to the temple, tinted or clear. Other activities may require goggles that prevent objects from entering under or around the eyewear by forming a protective seal around the eyes. Still other tasks may call for full-face protection. Employers and safety officers should always consult OSHA to help determine which type of safety eyewear is most appropriate for different job positions, and what certifications to look for before purchasing. ANSI Z87.1 stamped on the inside of the temple of the frame, for example, indicates that it’s approved for industrial use.

The Importance of a Good Fit

In addition to function and features, fit is also a priority. If eyewear doesn’t fit correctly, it can’t do its job correctly. Improper fit can increase risk of exposure, resulting in injury. However, an equally important concern is that the eyewear itself can become a hazard. For example, if ill-fitting glasses cause continual lens fogging, the lenses themselves lead to impaired vision, which can lead to accidents. A comfortable fit is also important in regard to compliance. If protective eyewear isn’t worn correctly and consistently, its effectiveness is compromised.

In summary, the more information you have about application, associated hazards and the features that will help to protect against those hazards, the clearer your choices for industrial safety in the workplace will be. Consider your employees’ eyes and vision a top priority and choose protective eyewear accordingly. Doing your research and considering options thoroughly before making big decisions or purchases of equipment, will keep your employees safer, healthier and happier. WMHS

Wiley X Eyewear was founded in 1987 by Myles Freeman, a U.S. military veteran who saw first-hand the need for innovative eye protection that could withstand the harshest environments and situations in military and industrial environments but also feature comfort, fit and a great appearance. Wiley X is at the forefront of the eyewear industry, with technologically advanced products that surpass safety standards (www.WileyX.com).

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