The Basics of Eye Protection (Part 4)

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3. How do we protect adequately against the various hazards?

Simply slapping a pair of safety glasses on everyone isn’t going to solve the problem. There are various types of eyewear protection for various issues.
Goggles, for example, are going to be more effective in an area with a lot of dust or very small particles. Safety glasses, even tight fitting ones, which are designed primarily to protect against the impact of flying debris, aren’t going to protect effectively against airborne particles and dust.
If the issue we are protecting against has to do with welding flash, than we need to make sure that the eyewear we are providing is specifically designed to protect against it. We can’t simply give the workers dark tinted glasses because it won’t be enough protection.
There is a wide variety of options available:
Safety Glasses come in all sizes, styles and shapes. Wrap-around glasses provide a close fit that protects well. Other styles are flat lenses but have built-in side-shields.
Safety glasses come in a variety of tints. The main ones are as follows:
Clear – For use in general purpose applications.
Amber (also known as “Yellow”) – These are most useful when fog, haze, overcast weather or snow have reduced sharpness and contrast. They provide clearer definition.
Vermillion (also known as “Red”) – The red tint absorbs green light. Can be used in place of the amber lens for sharpness and clarity.
Green/IR Shade – These tints block red and infrared light. These are best when working in high heat applications like molten metal, furnaces, etc…
Gray/Silver Mirror/Blue Mirror – Primarily used for outdoor applications these shades reduce glare and cut down on the amount of light that is allowed to reach the eye.
Indoor/Outdoor Mirror – With a slight mirror sheen to them, this tint keeps the eye from dilating when outside so that visibility is not hampered when the wearer comes back inside. These are a great selection for anyone who has to go in and out a lot such as forklift drivers.
Polarized – These glasses are designed to reduce glare by blocking reflected “horizontally polarized” light rays. Polarized glasses may not be suitable in areas where LCD displays need to be read, as they tend to block these as well, making the display hard if not impossible to read.

Goggles are available as a direct vent which allow air circulation and are therefore not appropriate for chemical protection, Indirect Vent which allow air to circulate somewhat but that still protect against liquids and unvented or ventless which are completely sealed and are ideal against chemical splash and fumes.

Face shields are designed primarily to protect more than just the eyes against impact. They cover the whole face. Because they are not air tight at all, however, they are not appropriate for protection against liquids and/or fumes and vapors.

It is important to make sure that your safety eyewear has the ANSI Z87.1 stamp to show that it has met the ANSI standard for safety.

Side Shields – For regular glasses that meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard, side shields are available to further protect against side impact. Note: Most regular prescription glasses do not meet the ANSI standard. For wearers of prescription glasses, there are Over-The-Glass safety glasses. Reader safety glasses are almost available for those who only need glasses for reading.

Additional Considerations:

• Make sure you get the right fit.
People come in all sizes and shapes and this applies to the faces as well. Fortunately many of the safety glasses available on the market today have adjustable templates and arms to allow the wearer to get the correct fit. There are also smaller sizes available to ladies and custom bridges for people with less of a bridge on their nose. The object is to get the frames as close to the face as possible (without the eyelashes rubbing against the lenses) and supported properly by the nose bridge.

• Make sure that your glasses are clean
Dirty or scratched lenses can hinder visibility. Keep the lenses clean using one of the many lens cleaning options available today. Replace scratched or pitted lens.

Tomorrow we will finish up with “What to do in case of Eye Injury”

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