By: Mary Padron, Contributor
When selecting safety eyewear, do you usually choose the most economical or low-bid solution? Or, do you thoughtfully consider the benefits of premium vision protection, such as improved compliance behaviors, long-term cost savings and the mental health benefits that promote worker well-being?
Don’t be Seduced by Price Alone
When specifying ANSI Z87.1+ rated eyewear, people often bow down to price since cost is one of the more prevalent factors in the purchasing decision, especially when you are outfitting a large work force. But don’t be seduced by price alone because the cost of a safety glass is often uncorrelated with its cost per use. That is, when safety managers choose eyewear, they should consider how often the eyewear will be used and how long it will last. Now more than ever, they also need to seriously consider the reputation of the manufacturer or vendor from whom they are buying, because the pandemic has led to the emergence of counterfeit PPE with profiteers hoping to benefit from the urgent need for these products.
Vision protection comes in many shapes and forms to address different hazard levels that can range from simple to moderate to severe. There are lots of options, including safety glasses, goggles, face shields, side shields, brow guards and over-the-glass (OTG) styles that are worn over prescription eyewear. To address the vision hazards and economic, comfort and style demands, you’ll find various quality levels too, including value, performance and premium brands.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at Premium Eyewear
Since impact-resistant eyewear is a major PPE segment, let’s take a closer look at premium eyewear because losing your eyesight can have a devastating and debilitating impact on life, derailing mental and physical health at work and at home.
Unfortunately, due to price and budget considerations, premium safety eyewear frequently takes the back seat while value or performance safety glasses sit comfortably in the front seat, driving purchasing decisions. When choosing safety glasses, remember to consider the following in your purchasing decision:
- the cost per use
- the positive mental health benefits
- what might happen if the eyewear is not suited to the job activity
- whether the eyewear fits properly
- if the worker will be happy wearing the eyewear
- the additional comfort and visual clarity benefits
- the reputation of the manufacturer
The Cultural Workplace Shift to “Holistic Safety and Well-Being”
The Construction Safety Week (CSW) purpose statement this year is “Be Present—Be Focused—Be Safe.” The CSW rally cry is to provide safety solutions that “promote holistic safety in the workplace . . . and that we make every aspect of our well-being part of our safety culture and programs.”
Perhaps this cultural workplace shift to “holistic safety and well-being” will expand the role of premium eyewear as the right safety solution. Why? Premium safety eyewear not only meets or exceeds standards and specifications, but it’s also purposely engineered for comfort, fit, style, performance and durability, all of which contribute to a worker’s positive mindset and improved mental health.
If workers are comfortable and like how they look in their safety glasses, their attitude, energy and compliance behaviors improve, which contributes to their mental well-being and physical safety.
However, if workers are given uncomfortable safety glasses that slip off their noses or eyewear that fogs up when they really need to see, the discomfort and worry can lead to worker stress, anxiety, non-compliance and distraction, which is the opposite of worker well-being. Most likely, the eyewear will be removed, making the worker vulnerable to vision risks.
As you can see, high-end vision protection contributes positively to well-being in the workplace. But when you look at long-term performance, premium safety eyewear also offers life-cycle cost advantages over the initial cost. This means that safety eyewear purchases based on low bid or low price could have higher costs in the long run due to their shorter life cycles.
Six Good Reasons Why Premium Safety Eyewear is a Great Investment
As the holistic, self-care and well-being trend grows in popularity throughout our communities, the workplace will also evolve to be inclusive of this cultural trend. The trend might also serve as a catalyst to rethink the purchasing decisions surrounding premium eyewear. Below are six good reasons why premium vision protection is a worthwhile investment.
More trust because premium PPE has been tested and certified to meet the standards unlike substandard or fraudulent PPE, which is always cheaper and often does not perform to the stated levels of protection.
Note: Due to the pandemic, the number of non-safety manufacturers or importers selling bogus PPE products with little to no expertise in safety standards has risen dramatically. According to the FBI National Press Office, “Scammers continue to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to steal money through a variety of means.” Based on the current stress on the supply chain, scammers may promise safety products they don’t really have access to in order to capitalize on the urgent PPE needs of the medical and industrial communities. Likewise, safety officers will need to exercise caution when dealing with unfamiliar PPE vendors or when relying on unidentified third-party brokers in the supply chain.
More cost savings and cost avoidance over the long term for employers because of longer product lifecycles, increased compliance and fewer injuries.
More workplace productivity because workers with high well-being are more engaged than distracted or stressed workers wearing substandard PPE.
More comfort features like paddle-shaped temples, self-adjusting nose pads and floating nose loops for all day wear
More clarity with advanced anti-fog coatings and fog reduction technologies.
More positive, dedicated and happy workers who contribute to their individual success and the success of the company.
What if You Need Help Selecting Vision Protection Specific to Your Jobsite?
If you need help selecting the appropriate eyewear, you are not alone. Most top-tier PPE manufacturers can help you perform vision risk/hazard assessments and then specify some of the options available in value, performance and premium brands. In addition, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) has a comprehensive Eye and Face Protection Selection Tool to help address common workplace hazards.
The protective eyewear choices made every day have real consequences for everyone. Unfortunately, vision impairment has far-reaching interconnected outcomes, negatively impacting the injured employee and his or her family, other employees (teammates), and the employer. So, let’s choose PPE wisely from a holistic perspective that looks at the whole versus the sum of its parts. WMHS
Mary Padron is a Senior MarCom and Event Specialist at Radians, a top-tier PPE manufacturer with a comprehensive line of high-performance and premium safety products to help minimize personal injury and promote well-being and safety at work (www.radians.com).