As reported by NIOSH, 2000 eye injuries occur every day at work in the U.S.
Construction workers have one of the highest eye injury rates.
Most common are particles of dust, metal, wood, slag, drywall, cement, etc. are the most common source of eye injury to carpenters.
Even “minor” eye injuries can cause life-long vision problems and suffering–a simple scratch from sawdust, cement, or drywall can cause corneal erosion that is recurrently painful.
Hammering on metal which gives off metal slivers and the rebounding of the ordinary nail are two of the most common causes of vision loss in construction workers.
1. Understand Potential Eye Hazard Examples
- Hammering, grinding, sanding, and masonry work that may produce particles
- Handling chemicals may lead to splashes in the eye
- Wet or powdered cement in the eye can cause a chemical burn.
- Welding leads to exposure to arcs and flashes (intense UV radiation) for welders, helpers, and bystanders
- Dusty or windy conditions can lead to particles in the eye
- Eye injuries can result from simply passing through an area where work is being performed
- Coworkers around or above you may generate the hazard
2. Find the Z87 marking on your safety glasses.
Safety eye and face protection includes non-prescription and prescription safety glasses, clear or tinted goggles, faceshields, welding helmets, and some full-face type respirators that meet the ANSI Z87.1 Eye and Face Protection Standard
The safety eyewear must have “Z87” or “Z87+” marked on the frame and in some cases the lens
Goggles are stronger than safety glasses
Goggles are used for higher impact protection, greater particle protection, chemical splashes, and welding light protection
Goggles for splash or high dust protection should have indirect venting
Goggles with direct venting (a mesh of small holes around the sides) tend to fog less, but should not be used with liquid or fine dust hazards
Common tasks: sawing, chipping, grinding, masonry work, using a nail gun, pouring cement, and working with chemicals
When goggles are used for welding make sure they are the proper shade # (the shade number is marked on the lens and shows how dark the lens is)
3. When should you use a face shield?
Faceshields are used for even higher impact protection and to protect the wearer’s face in addition to the eyes
Faceshields should always be used over safety glasses or goggles
Particles or chemicals can easily go around a faceshield and the curve of the faceshield can direct them into the eye
Faceshields are frequently lifted leaving the eyes unprotected without the safety glasses or goggles
Common tasks: spraying, chipping, grinding
4. If safety glasses look, cool people are more likely to wear them.
Safety glasses have hard or soft nose pieces, padded temples, and a variety of other features that improve comfort without adding great cost
Safety glasses come in many styles from the Buddy Holly heavy frames to the old visitor specs, frameless lens, frames with football logos, aviator metal frames, and the most stylish wraparound glasses
Tinted safety glasses are now common that rival the most expensive commercial sunglasses but cost much less and are safer
What are the lenses made of in your safety glasses?
Most non-prescription ( Plano ) safety glasses have polycarbonate lenses
The non-prescription safety glasses are tested by shooting a 1/4″ BB at 100mph at the lens and dropping a 1 lb pointed weight from 4′ on the lens–if it breaks in either test it won’t have the Z87 mark
Prescription safety glasses may have polycarbonate, glass, or plastic called CR39 but these glasses only have to pass a test of dropping a 2oz steel ball from 4′ unless they are marked Z87+; then they must pass the high velocity/impact tests
Polycarbonate lenses are much more impact resistant than glass or plastic lenses. Glass and plastic lenses usually shatter into small sharp pieces, but polycarbonate usually just cracks
Are your safety glasses scratched?
Polycarbonate lenses scratch easier than other lenses, but new anti-scratch coatings help if the glasses are cared for properly
Wear an eyewear retainer strap that will let the glasses hang around your neck when not in use instead of laying them down on the job
Store them in an old sock before they are tossed into a tool chest or the seat of a car or pickup
Use a glasses cleaning station or wash and wipe with a soft clean cloth (old T-shirts work fine, but the sweaty shirt that you’re wearing may have as much drywall dust as your safety glasses, creating a muddy mess on the lenses by day’s end)
When do you take your safety glasses off?
When finished with a tool or specific task–but what’s going on around you?
At your break–but are there still hazards around you from other workers?
At the end of the day, but while still on the job site–a carpenter took his glasses and tool belt off and left them on the roof at the end of the day; while climbing down the ladder he lost an eye from a coworker dropping pliers on him from above
As you leave the site and are out of the hazard zone
5. What do you do to stop your safety glasses from fogging?
Buy safety glasses that have anti-fog coatings put on during manufacturing
Use anti-fog solutions on the lenses regularly, if needed
Wear a sweatband on your forehead or a cool rag in your hard hat
Keep the lenses clean and unscratched.
If you need help deciding, contact UniFirst First Aid + Safety today!
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