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Use Your Head: Don’t Neglect Eye and Face Protection

Choosing suitable eye and face protection begins with understanding the different hazards that workers face every day.

By Milwaukee Tool, Contributor

Eye and face protection is as vital as ever in construction and the skilled trades. In 2020, there were more than 18,000 eye injuries in American workplaces, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction workers accounted for more than 2,000 of them, the highest incident rate among all industries. In addition to the harm caused to workers, each documented case resulted in at least one day away from work, leading to a decrease in productivity.

Choosing suitable eye and face protection begins with understanding the different hazards that construction and skilled workers face every day. With a wide array of options to choose from, workers might consider the benefits of modular systems that protect the user’s eyes and face, as well as their head.

Potential Eye and Face Hazards in Construction

The negative impacts of eye and facial injuries can run from mild pain, blurring, and temporary vision loss to severe ocular damage, permanent blindness, and disfigurement.

To mitigate these negative impacts, construction workers and employers must first be aware of the specific hazards they face on the jobsite. OSHA lists the following examples of potential hazards to a construction worker’s eyes and face:

  • Debris and Particulate Matter: Dust, dirt, bits of stone, metal shrapnel, or wood chips that are kicked up by power and hand tool activities such as sawing, grinding, chipping, hammering, and drilling
  • Corrosive Substances: Chemicals, hot liquids, and other toxic or corrosive solvents that workers are exposed to while using paints, lacquers, varnishes, cleaning materials, adhesives, and other coatings
  • Flying Objects: Impacts from tools, chunks of debris, chains, ropes, or tree limbs that might be accidentally or forcefully propelled into a worker’s eyes or face while on the jobsite

Tips for Selecting Suitable Eye Protection

According to the American Optometric Association, work-related eye injuries tend to occur for two main reasons: Either the worker was wearing the wrong kind of eye protection or they weren’t wearing any at all.[1]

To protect their workers, contractors and construction companies must ensure that they are always equipped with quality PPE that is suitable to the job at hand. OSHA recommends checking for the following elements when determining a suitable form of eye and face protection:

  • Protective Ability: Identify the specific hazards that workers face on the jobsite and choose a form of eye and face protection that matches those specific hazards. For reference, all new eye and face PPE must meet the minimum protection requirements set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
  • Proper Fit: Protective eye and face equipment must fit precisely enough to provide comprehensive coverage while also being comfortable enough to avoid excessive adjustments that might inadvertently expose the user to workplace hazards.
  • Vision and Mobility: Suitable eye and face protection should provide the user unrestricted vision and movement.
  • Durability and Cleanability: In addition to protecting against specific hazards like impacts or chemical splashes, eye and face protection should be built to weather the harsh conditions of a construction jobsite over time.
  • Compatibility with Other PPE: Suitable eye and face protections should be able to seamlessly function alongside other forms of workplace protective equipment such as safety helmets and earmuffs.

Modular PPE systems allow the user to secure a wide range of interchangeable eye and face protection accessories onto a single head protection solution.

The Modular Approach to Eye, Face, and Head Protection

Workers have a wide variety of eye and face protection options to choose from. Depending on the application, the most suitable choice might range from a pair of safety glasses or goggles to a wraparound welding shield.

There are also modular PPE systems that allow the user to secure a wide range of interchangeable eye and face protection accessories onto a single head protection solution. One example is the BOLT™ head protection and accessory system by Milwaukee Tool. A line of safety helmets and hardhats, BOLT™ provides improved efficiency and productivity on the jobsite, allowing users to simultaneously secure eye and face protection accessories to their head protection.

Eye Visors

BOLT™ eye visors are rated ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 (+) – 2020. The lenses are treated with an anti-scratch exterior coating and fog-free interior coating. Designed to comfortably fit a wide range of face shapes, the visors are simple to install and feature dual pivot points for easy adjustment. They also include a low-profile mounting point that is compatible with most head lamps.

Polycarbonate Face Shields

Full face shields are also available for situations that require greater protective coverage. Also rated ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 (+) – 2020, the face shields are made of high-impact polycarbonate material and similarly feature fog-free interior and anti-scratch exterior hard coatings.

Mesh Shields

Made of highly durable stainless steel, the ANSI/ISEA rated mesh face shield is built to protect against flying debris from chipping and cutting applications. It has been designed to provide optimal protection without obstructing the user’s field of view.

Technological advancements in eye and face protection PPE now provide better-than-ever solutions for keeping workers safe. Protect your workforce by identifying the equipment that will guard against the unique hazards of their job site.

Milwaukee Tool is a manufacturer of heavy-duty power tools, hand tools, instruments, and accessories (milwaukeetool.com).

[1] https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/protecting-your-vision?sso=y

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