Many workers encounter situations where dust, chips, or other flying objects are present in their daily tasks resulting in the need for eye protection. Since safety glasses are relatively inexpensive and meet the safety requirements for many of these tasks, they have become one of the most popular forms of eye protection at the workplace. Despite their frequent use in many settings, there is not a “one size fits all” solution for safety glasses in the workplace and several factors should be considered before using this type of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Comfort is a Key
One of the most frequent complaints supervisors and safety professionals receive is that the safety glasses are uncomfortable. Every face has unique features and shapes, so it is important to remember that one style and size of safety glasses will not fit every worker. Safety glasses should be securely worn, but not so tightly that they cause pain.
When wearing safety glasses, it is important that the frame be as close to the face as possible with adequate support by the bridge of the nose. If a sizable gap exists between an individual’s face and the protective eyewear, there is increased risk of dust and debris getting in the eye which may lead to injuries. Fit testing with protective eyewear can help ensure the maximum allowable gap is not exceeded while still providing a comfortable fit.
Also be on the lookout for improper use of safety glasses. Some workers may push protective eyewear up onto their forehead or wear the glasses in ways other than how they’re intended resulting in possible pain and discomfort. Improper use is often a symptom of poorly-fitting safety glasses, so it is best to consider improper use as a red flag and address the issue as soon as possible.
Take Care of Protective Eyewear
Another leading cause of discomfort is the use of protective eyewear that is in poor condition or of poor quality. Whether caused by improper care or simple wear and tear over time, safety glasses that are in bad shape can be uncomfortable. Additionally, dirty or scratched lenses cause unnecessary strain on the eyes, and bent or broken frames will result in a poor fit that leads to uncomfortable pressure.
Remember that you get what you pay for when it comes to safety glasses. Workers who wear safety glasses on a regular basis or for an extended period of time should ensure the eyewear is made of high quality materials, fits them well, and is properly maintained over time.
Consider Prescription Eyewear
Prescription safety glasses are an important consideration for workers who have a need for standard prescription or reading glasses. Prescription safety glasses prevent the wearer from having to worry about the care and cost of two pairs of glasses, and are a safer option than wearing “over-the-eyeglass” safety eyewear with glass lenses underneath. Prescription safety glasses are extremely durable, with frames ranging from titanium based to stainless steel and even non-conductive, as well as having ANSI approved lenses for strength that typically have anti-scratch or anti-fog coatings.
The only additional safety requirement for prescription safety eyewear is the use of side shields. Both flat fold and full cup side shields are OSHA approved for angular protection from projectiles and impact hazards. Prescription safety glasses are designed for the specific wearer making the comfort of the glasses a non-issue.
Workers should wear safety glasses that minimize glare. Glare commonly causes strain on the eyes which may lead to headaches and even neck pain. Assess the workspace to determine if a darker tinted lens may help reduce glare while not impairing the employee’s vision in any other way.
Take the necessary time to inspect and assess protective eyewear in your workplace and change styles if necessary. What works for one employee might not work for another, and effectively minimizing the common causes of eye discomfort will have a positive impact in your workplace.