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Friday, 22 November

The Eyes Have It

Eye protection continues to be recognised as one of the most fundamental protection areas in worker safety programmes, says Christine Mello-Blonay.

Eye injuries may not be the most common workplace injuries. However, when they do happen, they can have a massive personal impact on the sufferer, with temporary loss of sight or in the most extreme cases, severe and long-term impaired vision and/or blindness.

Key success factors for eye protection programmes include hazard avoidance, ensuring provision of the right solution for the right environment and ensuring worker buy-in. A simple 10-point plan should consider the following:

Spectacles – spectacles are suitable where full enclosure of the eye area is not required. Offering protection against high speed particles, all spectacles are tested from both the front and the sides. Various levels of lens treatments are available for environmental conditions.

Goggles – select goggles when workers are coming into contact with eye hazards such as dust, flying particles or liquid droplets, gases and vapours, molten metal and hot liquids, and a tight seal is required. Look for goggles with anti-scratch and anti-fog ventilation or with an anti-fog lens coating.

Faceshields – opt for faceshields when workers have the potential to come into contact with hazards such as flying solid particles or liquid droplets, arc flash, molten metal and hot solids.

Sizing – it is vital that the eye protection fits well and is comfortable for the wearer. Look for different width sizes and additional features such as an adjustable nose bridge to help keep eyes centred in the lens and reduce eye fatigue.

Comfort – any PPE selected should be comfortable as this is the major factor in determining worker acceptance and wear over the course of a full work day.

Flexibility – consider safety eyewear that incorporates added wearer features such as ratcheting temple hinges on spectacles, enabling the wearer to tailor the fit and customise the lens angle for greater protection.

UV protection – where light is an issue, go for a product that offers 99.9% UV protection and a proper coating to ensure anti-fog, anti-static and scratch-resistant properties meeting the EN166 European Standard.

Close fitting – the closer the fit – with ideally little or no gap between the lens, frame and the wearer’s face where spectacles are concerned – the better.

Wider PPE compatibility – if eyewear has to be worn with other forms of PPE – such as hard hats or hearing protection – ensure it is compatible and the use of one does not compromise the use or performance of another.

Prescription eyewear – most people over the age of 40 wear spectacles all or part of the time, yet many do not use prescription eyewear in the workplace. If they do wear it under goggles or faceshields, there should be an adequate gap between the two.

 

Review

All eye protection programmes, even established ones which follow the points outlined above, should be reviewed on a regular basis. By reviewing training and reinforcing the message about the importance of eye protection, safety managers can gain worker insight, feedback and buy-in.

By Christine Mello-Blonay, Senior Product Manager for Honeywell Industrial Safety

Article written by Christine Mello-Blonay

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