Considerations for Choosing Eye Protection When Facing the New Normal
Finding the right eye protection can be challenging. Here are a few tips that can help.
- By Carly Engels Johnston, Katie Aune
- Apr 01, 2021
Protecting your eyes on the job is important. It is important that the personal protective equipment (PPE) you use works together. For instance, wearing a face covering with eye protection and dealing with the common problem of fogging can result in reduced visibility potentially creating a workplace hazard.
You should look for eye protection that not only includes quality anti-fog but does not sacrifice style or comfort and can withstand the demands of your job. It’s important to seek out durable eyewear that performs to your required levels, has a comfortable fit and a sleek profile designed to work with other PPE that will help you perform your job safely.
How to Select the Correct Eye Protection
First and foremost, eye protection must be selected based on the hazards in the workplace. However, there are additional aspects that can be considered when selecting eye protection.
Anti-Fog Coatings and Scratch-Resistant Coatings
Fogging occurs when tiny droplets form on the lens and scatter incoming light, making it more difficult for you to see clearly. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirements to wear face coverings, selecting eye protection that has anti-fog technology has become increasingly important. We have all seen how wearing eye protection with face coverings can cause fogging to occur. Fogged lenses can be frustrating and depending on your conditions, dangerous. If you have to constantly remove the eyewear to wipe away fog, this may not only result in work interruptions and may affect productivity but can expose eyes to potentially dangerous workplace hazards.
Effective anti-fog coatings can help workers see clearly longer. Look for eye protection with advanced or premium anti-fog coatings that allow for multiple wiping and/or washings without hindering the anti-fog performance. Some of these new coatings now even resist fogging longer than traditional anti-fog coatings through up to 25 washings with water.
There are eye protection options designed for working in challenging situations, such as hot and humid conditions, indoor/outdoor work, physically demanding tasks, and climate-controlled areas. Fogging can result in all of these, especially when used with any type of mask or facial coverings. Depending on your needs, you can find eye protection in the market that meets both the Impact Rated and Anti-Fog Performance requirements of the ANSI-ISEA Z87.1-2020 Standard. Both will be visible on eyewear in the form of a marking. Look for ‘Z87+’ for Impact Rated Protector and ‘X’ for Anti-Fog Performance.
Anti-fog is not the only coating you may want to consider. Scratches can easily be distracting and obscure your visual field of vision. Scratch resistance in tough work environments may be helpful to help enhance durability of your eye protection. There are some models that offer both coating options. Comfort. If your eye protection isn’t comfortable, you may be tempted to take it off or not wear it all the time. By doing so, you may expose your eyes to workplace hazards that could result in injury. From small heads to large heads and different shaped faces, find eye protection that is designed to provide a secure and comfortable fit for an extended period of wear time. Seek out a reputable brand that offers a range of adjustable and varied designs, which can help provide comfort to individuals across a diverse workforce.
There are currently eye protection options on the market that offer:
*Soft nose bridges to help alleviate nose-piece pinching.
*The ability to apply pressure on the less sensitive back of the head instead of the temples, achieving a secure and comfortable fit even during rapid head movement.
*Slotted ribs that provide comfortable pressure equalization, allowing the temple pieces to flex and self-adjust to the size of the wearer’s head.
*Adjustable ratchet temples that allow the lens to be adjusted to better fit facial features.
Wearing your eye protection should be comfortable without sacrificing safety. You may also want to look for options that are sleek or have a design that fits your preferences while also meeting your safety goals.
Double pressure on an area can end up being very uncomfortable. Luckily, there are eye protection options that can combine well with other personal protective equipment. For example, if you wear earmuffs as hearing protection, you may want to consider choosing eye protection with a thin temple design to minimize interference with the seal of the earmuff cushion. You should consult with a reputable PPE manufacturer, with a wide range of offerings, to help find product combinations that meet your needs.
Eye injuries can occur even while wearing eye protection if they do not fit properly. Properly fitting eye protection should cover the soft tissue around the eye and not leave large gaps. If they are too small for the wearer’s head, it can leave exposed soft tissue areas. If too large for the wearer’s head, it can cause gaps between the eye protection and the face. Selecting the proper eye protection for the task and ensuring proper-fitting eyewear can help to reduce worker eye injuries. This can also help with comfort and compatibility concerns with other PPE. There are step-by-step methods developed by reputable eye protection manufacturers to help ensure you can find the best-fitting eye protection.
The benefits of seeking out eye protection that accounts for these concerns are clear. A reputable manufacturer who offers these features and benefits can help you in your selection of the right models to help you stay safe, compliant, and comfortable.
This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.