According to the U.S. Department of Labor, thousands of employees suffer from eye injuries every year, many of these injuries sustained at work, usually from inadequate eye protection. These injuries can result in blindness and cost over $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.
Potential eye hazards can be found in almost every industry.
What causes eye injuries?
According to the US Department of Labor, 70% of the total eye injuries are caused by falling objects or sparks striking the eye. 3/5 of these objects being smaller than a pin head but were traveling faster than a hand thrown object. 20% of the eye injuries resulted from contact with chemicals.
Preventing Eye Injuries
To prevent eye injuries, you should always wear effective eye protection. There are three types of eye protection: safety glasses, goggles or a face shield. Safety glasses are the most common. They are designed with side protection and can resist an impact up to 150 feet per second. Safety goggles form a seal around the eyes giving better protection and can come in impact resistant and chemical resistant. Chemical goggles protect the wearer from chemical splashes with hooded or indirect ventilation. Impact goggles have direct ventilation holes and protect against direct impact or large particles. Finally there are face shields which are used in welding and sanding applications. Face shields are a secondary form of protection and must be worn with either safety glasses or goggles. Which type of eye protection is chosen based on the nature and degree of potential hazard the workplace factors and any OSHA and ANSI requirements.
Types of Safety Wear Lenses
There are three main types of lenses found in eye safety wear. Glass lenses are not easily scratched and can be used around harsh chemicals. They can also be made into a corrective prescription for those who need it. However, they can also be heavy and uncomfortable to wear. Plastic lenses are lighter weight, are good for protecting against welding splatter and are not likely to fog up on your face. However, they are more likely to scratch when compared to glass. Polycarbonate lenses are light weight, protect against welding splatter and are not likely to fog up like the plastic lenses. However they are the strongest lens and have a greater impact resistance then glass and plastic alone.
Eyewear Testing and Requirements
Protective eyewear goes through a series of tests to verify that it meets the requirements that have been put into place. This includes testing the frames and the lens for durability like flame or chemical resistance, high impact, high mass impact and high velocity impact. High impact will be marked with Z87+. If they are not rated for high impact they will just Z87. Other markings include a V, which indicates photochromic lenses and S which means the lenses have a special tint usually meant for welding or soldering.
Preventing eye injuries through use of safety glasses, goggles and face shields saves money by avoiding injury costs, lost productivity, insurance costs, lawsuits and possible fines. For the worker it avoids catastrophic injury like blindness, pain, lost wages and medical bills. 50% of workers injure while wearing eye protection thought the eye wear had minimized the damage.