The most notable progressions of anti-fog coatings are those that are bonded to the lens for long-lasting properties. (MCR image)

Let's See How We Can Grow Our Safety

Anti-fog and anti-scratch technologies are perfect examples of creating products tailored to relevant market needs.

Our industry has made significant advances in protecting workers' eyes. We've come from "Buddy Holly" large, bulky-style protection to sleek, fashionable eyewear that meets ANSI Z87.1 impact protection, as well as styles meeting military ballistic impact resistance. One technological advancement resides in providing higher levels of anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings. Many providers of protective eyewear are promoting six to ten times greater anti-fogging properties. These endorsements are specific to reducing the dissipation time for any fogging.

Progressions in anti-fog (AF) coatings provide clear viewing and, in some cases, eliminate fogging altogether. Most notable progressions of anti-fog coatings are those that are bonded to the lens for long-lasting properties. The new coatings provide convenience not available from anti-fog wipes, as well as having longer wearing properties.

The greatest benefit to users requiring this technology will occur in environments going from extreme temperatures. We recently conducted surveys at a local company involved in the paper industry. The safety hazard faced at this company derived from employees working around extreme temperatures reaching 600 degrees. Before using the new AF technology, one user said, "AF never worked." Another user from the same company said, "It takes one to two minutes to defog." After using technology with six times greater AF dissipation, a user from the same company said, "These glasses did not fog in any of the places that normally fog, such as the steam box and under the dryer." This local company now uses the new AF technology, making the workplace much safer.

Besides users going from extreme temperatures, here are some common applications where users face needing the advanced anti-fog technology: wearing a respirator or dust mask, medical warehousing, industrial and school labs, and any application during winter/cold months.

Likewise, endorsements for anti-scratch performance are also more prevalent in today’s marketplace. These anti-scratch coatings are also bonded to the lens for greater performance. Anti-scratch demonstrations during this year’s National Safety Council Congress & Expo in San Diego included assorted eyewear with and without anti-scratch coating inserted into steel wool-lined rotating chambers to simulate abrasion hazards.

Recent Eye Injury Statistics
Private-industry occupational eye injuries in 2011 involving days away from work totaled 20,690, according to the 2014 Injury Facts published by the National Safety Council.1 As safety professionals, our industry must leverage this information in an effort to promote safe practices at work, as well as outside the workplace. The Injury Facts publication released this summer indicates considerably more eye injuries occurred outside the workplace.

Adhering to the common denominator of "We protect people," employers will enhance their return on their employee investment by promoting safety wear off the job as well as at work.

In effort to take a closer look at the most recent findings, here is a recap of specific information concerning occupational eyewear injuries by industry:

Private-Industry Occupational Eye Injuries, 2011
Manufacturing: 5,170, 25%
Construction: 2,660, 13%
Retail trade: 2,470, 12%
Education and health services: 2,390, 12%
Transportation and warehousing: 1,830, 9%
Professional and business services: 1,710, 8%
Wholesale trade: 1,200, 6%
Leisure and hospitality: 1,110, 5%
All other sectors: 2,150, 10%

The average dollar claim for injuries shown above is $36,592 across all "parts of body."

This same report listed 29,600,000 non-fatal medically consulted total injuries away from work. These numbers represent all injuries, but it is likely many could have been prevented by wearing protective eyewear. The report also endorses the total cost from the above injuries being $341.7 billion.

With so much national attention surrounding heath care during the past three to five years and the fact an average claim can cost $36,592, there is no reason one would not want to also remain safe away from work.

The top activities with injuries occurring away from work were as follows:

Injuries Away from the Workplace, 2011

 Activity  Injuries
 Nails, screws, tacks, and bolts
 Saws  84,855
 Lawn mowers
 Pruning, trimming, and edging
 Hammers  34,170
 Tools  27,183
 Workshop grinders, buffers, and polishers

These are activities in which one typically would wear eyewear at work, too. In addition, there are multiple recreational activities where protective eyewear could also reduce injuries; these include archery, baseball, cycling, fishing, mountain climbing, and skateboarding.

As conscientious suppliers, we must listen to our industry to help us see more clearly. To expand on this point, I would like to share the findings of our recent focus group. More than 100 individuals from assorted industries were solicited for a ranking of the most significant criteria regarding the performance of their eyewear. These individuals were asked to provide a hierarchy of the most significant considerations regarding their eyewear selection.

Scratch resistance and fogging concerns ranked at the top of the list. Concerns for fashionable eyewear also ranked close to the top of this list. By listening to the market, companies are able to develop products most needed in helping to protect people against workplace or non-workplace hazards. The anti-fog and anti-scratch technologies are perfect examples of creating products tailored to relevant market needs.

Today's media provide multiple endorsements of industry advancements that address each of these areas. From industry print advertising to manufacturer websites and industry trade shows, our industry has multiple opportunities for sourcing styles that address all of these criteria. Consumers need to take advantage of all media exposures to learn about and evaluate the best safety gear for their needs.

Employers can reduce injuries and promote safety by mandating employees to wear safety gear at work and off the job. Incorporating a higher safety conscientiousness for everyone will be a testament to "We protect people."

1. National Safety Council Injury Facts, 2014 edition.

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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