Keeping an Eye on Your Vision Protection Program
Your employees will notice your PPE, too. Make certain you are not on the mountaintop, but down in the work zone alongside the employees. This builds credibility.
- By Jerry Laws
- Oct 01, 2015
Almost one-third of all private sector injuries to the head that involved days away from work in 2012 were eye injuries—BLS data show a total of 20,300 eye injuries among the 65,320 head injuries that year, with the manufacturing sector accounting for 4,880 of the eye injuries and construction accounting for 3,080 of them, the National Safety Council's Injury Facts, 2015 edition reports.
Asking employees why they aren't wearing their vision protection, if they are not, will identify problems that must be solved, whether the complaint is about fogging, scratches, glare, or some other type of discomfort. Former OH&S Technical Editor Linda J. Sherrard advises reviewing your injury logs to pinpoint past eye injuries and their causes, as well as asking employees for constructive feedback.
Her recommendations include:
- Monitor your inventory and provide an assortment of protective eyewear styles, based on your hazard assessment, so that all sizes are available in styles that are attractive to your workforce.
- Examine past years' purchases. It helps with budgeting to know how many vision PPE items are used, damaged, and replaced.
- Have a policy for Rx safety glasses. Whether your company pays a portion or the total cost of this PPE category, control what they purchase by deciding on coatings, etc.
- Buy what they really need. If they're doing outdoor, high-glare work, working on water or in highly reflective areas, consider today's polarized safety sunglasses, which are readily available with scratch-resistant and/or fog-resistant coatings for a relatively low cost.
- Ensure new employees and visitors are covered from day one. Make sure that all new employees who need vision PPE are issued the correct item and receive the training they need on its use.
- Carry extras so you can replace damaged or missing items on the spot without making the employee wait another day or until you can reorder.
- Wear what they wear. Your employees will notice your PPE, too. Make certain you are not on the mountaintop, but down in the work zone alongside the employees. This builds credibility.
- Remind the employees about proper use and limitations of vision PPE, as you do with other types of PPE you provide. Make sure they know how and where to store their glasses and goggles, how to clean them properly, and also how to determine when PPE is no longer functional.
Take note: OSHA recently published an Infosheet titled "Health Effects From Contaminated Water in Eyewash Stations." It highlights the infection hazards that may be present when emergency eyewash stations are improperly maintained. Eyewash facilities are required in workplaces where corrosive chemicals are used (29 CFR 1910.151(c)) and in HIV and HBV research laboratories and production facilities (1910.1030(e)(3)(i)) and "where there is any possibility that an employee's eyes may be splashed with solutions containing 0.1 percent or greater formaldehyde (1910.1048(i)(3))," while research and production laboratories and medical facilities also may have them.
"How can improperly maintained eyewash stations cause infections? Water found in improperly maintained eyewash stations is more likely to contain organisms (e.g., Acanthamoeba, Pseudomonas, Legionella) that thrive in stagnant or untreated water and are known to cause infections," it states. "When a worker uses an eyewash station that is not maintained, organisms in the water may come into contact with the eye, skin, or may be inhaled. Workers using eyewash stations after exposure to a hazardous chemical or material may have eye injuries that make the eye more susceptible to infection. Also, workers with skin damage or compromised immune systems (e.g., transplant recovery, cancer, lupus) are at increased risk for developing illnesses from contaminated water."
The document recommends complying with the ANSI/ISEA standard, Z358.1-2014, which says plumbed systems should be activated weekly to eliminate these hazards.
Tips from Essilor to Avoid Foggy Glasses
Foggy glasses are a pain and can be dangerous, particularly for those who work in jobs that require clear vision at all times—operating heavy machinery, working in kitchens, first responders responding to emergencies, and many others. Glasses wearers around the world are all too familiar with the "Now you see it, now you don't" phenomenon of foggy glasses. However, while many situations that cause glasses to fog are unavoidable, there are steps you can take to conquer the fog.
"The technology and resources to prevent fog are out there, people just aren't aware of it," said Samy Lauriette, vice president of Product Marketing, Coatings & Sun at Essilor. "Especially for those who work in jobs that require clear vision at all times, foggy glasses are just not an option."
To learn how to avoid the fog, it is important to first understand the cause. Why do your glasses fog up every time you take a sip of hot coffee? Put simply, quick temperature changes cause standard lenses to form micro water drops, creating fog. Luckily, this is no new problem and, over time, glasses wearers and lens companies alike have come together to try to solve the problem.
The most foolproof way to get rid of foggy vision for good is to ask your eye doctor about anti-fog glasses. Essilor, an eyeglass lens manufacturer recognized on the Forbes magazine World's Most Innovative Companies list, developed Optifog® lenses built with a unique top layer containing fog repellent properties on both the front and back side of the lens. Patients are now able to clean and activate these lenses with an activator cloth to provide long-lasting protection against fog.
Another way to avoid the fog is to select eyeglass frames that allow for more air circulation by not sitting too close to your face.
While working, avoid fog by wearing a headband that can help soak up any sweat that forms on your face, to help reduce the condensation that can build up on your glasses. Similarly, wearing many layers can cause your body to overheat and sweat, so being mindful of the amount of layers you are wearing, especially around the neck and face area, can help to eliminate foggy glasses.
Just because you wear glasses does not mean you have to accept being temporarily blinded by fog! Start using these tips to overcome the condensation that comes with temperature change and start experiencing clearer vision today.
Essilor is the leading manufacturer and wholesale distributor of optical lenses in the United States. In 1996, with the establishment of Essilor Laboratories of America, Inc. (Essilor Labs), Essilor became the first fully integrated optical company in the United States, specializing in ophthalmic lens production, manufacturing, and distribution in addition to wholesale optical laboratory operations. Essilor of America is a fully owned subsidiary of Paris-based Essilor International and is the largest business unit in the worldwide Essilor Group.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.