There is no substitute for good vision, so taking care of your sight should be a priority, whether you are at home or on the job. The Prevent Blindness organization reports that over 700,000 people in the U.S. experience work-related eye injuries every year.
Of that number, 90% can be prevented if workers wear the proper safety eyewear. Safety glasses, including prescription safety glasses, are required in many occupations, yet the number of on-the-job injuries show that they aren’t being worn. For businesses and their employees individually, here are some top tips from vision professionals to help you establish safety practices that are followed.
Assess Your Environment
Take the time to assess your entire operation, including every department and task that employees undertake. Inspect equipment used on the job, work areas, and how employees perform their duties. It’s also a good idea to do some homework and study injury reports for eye accidents to understand the risks. Some things to note are these items:
- What operations present risks to eyesight? Welding, machining and carpentry are a few.
- Are there eyewash stations where needed, such as areas where chemicals are handled?
- Is there signage that directs employees to eyewash and first-aid stations?
Once you have identified eye hazards, you need to choose the right safety glasses for each situation. For example, glasses that mean general safety requirements may not offer the full protection required for those working with chemicals. Since liquid splashes and airborne particles can enter the eye from any direction, workers who perform these tasks should have safety goggles, which create a seal against the skin to keep out contaminants.
Conduct Vision Tests
Employees may not realize that their eyesight is changing or has already changed. Consider implementing a vision test for new employees and a regular checkup period every two years for continuing workers. Prescription safety glasses are available for those who need corrective lenses and offer a simple, all-in-one solution for correction and protection. Employers must pay for prescriptive safety glasses if they are to remain at the job site and cannot be worn home, as determined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Employers must also provide nonprescription eye protection, or prescription eyewear inserts and lenses for goggles or full-face respirators.
Consider making eye protection mandatory in all areas of your shop’s operation. This type of broad requirement is more effective at preventing eye injuries in the workplace overall, especially if your employees move between departments. Businesses also find it easier to enforce than a narrower requirement that applies only to specific tasks, work areas or departments. Be sure to include managers in this requirement, who can reinforce the importance of safety glasses by setting a good example.
Ensure a Good Fit
It’s a plain and simple fact that people are not going to wear something uncomfortable. Even if safety glasses are mandatory, many can and will find good excuses not to wear them. It’s essential to have an eye care professional fit safety glasses to ensure their comfort. All workers can take responsibility for their personal protective gear, especially if the company provides the funding for eye exams and the creation and repair of safety glasses.
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Inform and Educate Employees
Plan and implement continuing education for employees about the need for protective eyewear. Include eye safety in your employee manual and address it during the orientation of new workers. It’s also important to regularly review your accident prevention procedures and policies and update them as needed. Post copies of your safety program in areas where employees gather, such as break rooms, where they can see and read them.
ANSI Safety Standards for Lenses
OSHA uses the standards set by the American National Standards Institute for safety eyewear. ANSI is a nonprofit organization that sets safety and quality standards for a great number of products. Safety glasses, goggles, welding helmets, face shields and full-face respirators must meet a higher standard for impact resistance than other eyewear.
- Impact Tests: Safety glasses are rated either for basic-impact or high-impact resistance, based on how they pass ANSI’s impact testing.
- Basic Impact: A steel ball is dropped onto the lens from 50 inches above to determine whether the lens chips, cracks or breaks upon impact. If it does, the lens does not qualify for use in safety glasses. Lenses alone undergo this test.
- High Impact: A steel ball of a quarter-inch diameter is shot at the lens at a velocity of 150 feet per second. If the lens pops out, chips, cracks or breaks, it does not quality for high-impact safety glasses. Lenses in their frames undergo this test as a unit.
Lenses that pass the basic impact test are labeled with ANSI’s Z87.1 rating, while lenses that pass the high-impact test are labeled Z87+. Additional marks that appear on lenses are “V” and “S.” The “V” means the lens is photochromic and darkens when exposed to UV light. An “S” means the lens carries a particular tint. A number may appear on the shaded lens as well to indicate a reduced amount of light transmittal.
ANSI Safety Standards for Frames
Using the same basic-impact and high-impact criteria, frames of safety glasses must also undergo testing. Along with the high-velocity test described above, frames must pass several durability tests, including resisting flames and corrosion. Frames also must pass a high-mass impact test in which a steel projectile of one-inch diameter is dropped onto the lens, in its frame, through a tube. The projectile weighs 17.6 ounces and is aligned with the lens, which is worn by a dummy, or artificial head. The lens must remain fully within the frame, and the entire frame (excluding temple arms) must remain intact to pass this test.
Safety Gear Pro Can Help
Whether you are shopping for yourself or for your workers, Safety Gear Pro has a wide selection of prescription safety glasses, as well as nonprescription safety glasses, from which to choose. If you’re not sure what you need, our knowledgeable support staff can help you find the right eyewear for your industry. Contact us today at 1-832-850-2979.
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