Eye protection in the industrial workplace

on 04 July, 2017

Anyone working around or passing through areas with industrial equipment should be wearing protective eyewear. When working within industrial equipment areas, wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is crucial for preventing injury.

Thousands of eye accidents occur yearly in these industries in the UK. At least 10% to 20% of these injuries result in partial or even full blindness.

I’m going to explain why it is important to make sure that you’re equipping yourself with the right protection to stay safe on the job.

What are the hazards?

Likely eye hazards that you may experience at work can vary, but the most common are chemical spillages, tool accidents, radiation, bloodborne pathogens, and flying glass, woods, and metals.

They can present themselves in the following ways:

Radiation - eyesight is impacted by visible light, ultraviolet heat and / or infrared radiation and lasers

Projectiles - impact caused particles from wood, metal, dust, concrete etc.

Chemicals - fumes and splashes.

What type of eye protection is available?

The most common types of eye protection used in industrial workplaces are safety goggles, glasses, welding helmets and face shields. Your selection of eyewear is dependent on your level of activity and what you’ll be exposing yourself too, so it’s important to make sure you’re using the most appropriate solution.

Goggles - they protect your eyes from any potential projective and chemical splashes. Goggles provide incredibly secure protection in all directions, and are highly impact-resistant. For those who wear prescription contacts or lenses, they can also be worn over these.

Face shields - When used in conjunction with safety goggles or glasses, these are used to protect workers from chemical exposure, as well as heat and blood borne pathogens.

Safety glasses - Safety glasses provide great general eye protection. They safely shield against flying particles, and can provide you with additional side protection to shield the corners of your eyes. When looking for the maximum protection, polycarbonate lenses provide the highest protection level against possible impact.

What should I be looking for in my eye protection?

Now that you know what type of eyewear is available to you there are some guidelines that you should consider.

Fit - The fit of your eyewear is key. To ensure that your eyewear keeps you as safe as possible, protection, such as goggles, should be fitted to you personally. Workers should always have the option to try on a range of eyewear options, and choose the ones that are best suited to them. This is especially important if workers wear glasses or contact lenses.

Consider the fit once they have been tried on too. Is the style comfortable? Can they be adjusted easily? If you wear glasses, can they fit easily over your regular pair? As workers are likely to wear them for a large portion of their day. These aspects of eye protection must be taken seriously.

Once it’s been decided what eyewear you feel most comfortable with, it’s now time for further safety checks.

Make sure that there are no unnecessary gaps around the perimeter of your eyewear. It is also important to ensure that your eye protection is easy to clean, and that dirt and debris is not easily lodged within the glasses.

Durability - Frames must pass flammability and resistance tests to ensure that they are fit for purpose and proper protection.

UV Resistance - Protecting your eyes from the sun is incredibly important, especially to those working in outdoor conditions. UV-resistant glasses protect workers from over-exposure to sunlight, and harmful rays that could impact their vision while working.

Moisture build up / anti fog - Glasses with anti-fog properties help workers to see when working in moist / damp environments. Consider if this is needed for your workplace and assess if moisture build up is a common problem.

With such an array of eye protection now available, eye protection should be a top priority when working.

Asad Ali is digital marketing manager at Scruffs.

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