AMSJ » OPINION: What irks me about safety eyewear

OPINION: What irks me about safety eyewear

When it comes to choosing safety eyewear there’s a so much in the market. Apart from the obvious compliance with the range of relevant standards like AS 1337, there is a range of important criteria in selecting suitable non prescription safety eyewear.  Fit and durability of the product are often key concerns for users but you should also consider if they’ll protect you against the hazards of the job.

For those that work across the mining sector, we’ve all no doubt seen non prescription safety glasses bouncing around on the floor of utes or scratched beyond wearability. There’s plenty of people who get frustrated by safety glasses because they’re just plain uncomfortable, don’t work adequately or difficult to see through for the jobs at hand.

Making sure they meet the standards

With around 50,000 eye injuries across Australia each year you would think that we would pay more attention to choosing the right safety eyewear. Safework Australia has highlighted in past research that many users of safety eyewear were injured through foreign bodies like dust, sediment and other fine particles entering people’s eyes. Research also has shown that eye injuries have previously been shown to be an important reason for presentation at emergency departments (Driscoll and Harrison, 2007).

When it comes to standards you or your organisation may need to consider the hazards that you face on the job in order to select the right gear. You will need to consider:

  • Impact rating;
  • UV or other forms of light protection;
  • Effectiveness of the seal around the eye (to stop the particles) – sometimes called shielding;
  • whether or not safety glasses can actually do the job to protect you. You might need a faces shield or goggles depending on the hazards encountered.

There’s a huge range of standards that might apply, so always check with someone who knows what they should do in dispensing the right gear. There’s even specialist in workplace optometry that can help.

safety eyewear standards safety glasses standards
Check to make sure your safety eyewear complies

Choosing the right safety eyewear

Now as an everyday wearer of non prescription safety glasses, I have established a range of personal criteria that I use to help me make the right selection.
Firstly they must stay on my face and not keep sliding off. Several years ago I purchased some safety eyewear for a moderate price which didn’t have an adjustable nose bridge. After a day on the job and glasses constantly running down my nose from the sweaty north Queensland environment, I ended up giving them the big heave-ho and went looking for a pair of $50-plus “ducks nuts according to the sales rep” with adjustable nose bridges. My problems continued…
Secondly,  you really should make sure they’re anti-fog. Sounds simple, right? Not so. My next pair ended up steaming up in the sweltering conditions of Queensland Nickel Refinery, where I was working on a health and safety project. Despite my best efforts and endless bottles of anti-fog solutions, they finally ended up on the floor of my ute where they probably stayed until the ute passed on to another renter.

Earpieces and fogging and on-going issue

Thirdly the other irk factor for me is the earpieces. Those little bits on the glasses arms that invariably cause, yet again, the glasses to slip off your face or rub your ears so red after day one on the job.
I don’t often get many chances to review new brands but recently I had the opportunity to try on a pair of the new UVEX Sportstyle range. After making some horrible choices throughout my career in the eyewear space, I thought it was going to be another ho-hum moment. I was pleasantly surprised. Why you may ask?
Well, firstly they ticked the boxes for the adjustable nose and earpieces.
They also came with anti-fog coatings on both sides of the lenses – tick.
They have awesome scratch resistance (which allows them to bounce around the floor of the ute) – tick.
Most of all, they’re lightweight (23 grams) and have a pretty good looking style which makes you feel like you’re wearing an ultra expensive brand starting with a – tick.
Choosing safety eyewear /safety glasses doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By ensuring that they meet the standard required to address the hazards encountered, making sure that they fit your face and certainly ensuring that they won’t fog are key things to look out for.
There are lots of safety glasses to chose from on the market.
It’s definitely worth the effort to try these new UVEX Sportstyle’s to see if they tick your boxes. I rated them a 4.5 out of 5  for UVEX’s consideration in addressing my eyewear irk factors.
This article is unpaid and provides some guidelines for users in selecting eyewear. Eyewear selection should always be undertaken based on the risks encountered in the tasks performed.
Driscoll TR, Harrison JE (2007). Work-related injuries using emergency department data. Canberra: The Australian Safety and Compensation Council.

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AMSJ April 2022