Of all the senses humans possess, the sense of sight is the one we rely on the most. The ability to see is vital for most functions in society from shortly after a person is born, and will be relied on all throughout that person’s life.
The importance of eyesight makes protecting one’s sense of sight a paramount priority. And yet, according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), every day over two hundred workers in Canada sustain an eye injury while on the job. These injuries are not only common, but extremely costly and potentially life-changing, should an eye injury result in permanent vision impairment or blindness. The effect that sudden loss of vision can have on a worker can be devastating to morale, as well as to the lifestyle and livelihood of victims and their families.
Even injuries that do not result in permanent damage rack up considerable costs in terms of medical care, rehabilitation, lost time and productivity, and increased insurance premiums. This makes preventing workers from suffering and risking eye injuries through comprehensive and effective protection all the more critical.
The first line of defense
Proper safety protocol and effective hazard mitigation aside, the first line of defense for any worker facing potential hazards to his or her vision is being equipped with effective and appropriate safety eyewear.
Protective eyewear takes many forms, the most common being safety glasses and eye goggles:
- Safety Glasses – Among the most commonly used protective eyewear, safety glasses are typically made of plastic or other durable material and are designed to protect the eyes against dust, stray particles or bits of wood, stone, or metal (particularly in manufacturing settings), or smoke. Safety glasses are typically impact-resistant to prevent cracking and occasionally treated with anti-fog, anti-scratch, or radiation-filtering coatings depending on the cost and intended use. Some designs may include side shields or be shaped to be worn over prescription glasses.
- Eye Goggles – Also called safety goggles, eye goggles are a type of safety eyewear ideally suited for dirty and high-particulate work environments and jobs that involve both hands, such as equipment handling, grinding, lumberjacking, sanding, and chipping. Safety goggles typically come with a strap to keep them secure on the face, and often have rubberized or padded frames for a more snug fit that keeps out dirt and other irritants. Eye goggles also prevent chemicals, waste or other fluids from splashing into a worker’s eyes, in fields like food production, water or sewage management, and chemical processing.
Properly protecting your peepers
It’s not always an easy task to select the most appropriate type of protective eyewear, given the diversity both of tasks and safety eyewear design types. Here are a few helpful tips to make your job easier and safer:
- Be aware of the hazards and dangers any given task presents, and try to match your selection of safety glasses or eye goggles to the job at hand.
- Look for the mark of the Canadian Standards Association, which indicates that a product (not limited to safety eyewear) meets or exceeds existing safety standards.
- Once equipped, keep the lenses of your safety glasses or eye goggles clean, using tools such as lens wipes or protective eyewear lens cleaning stations, if available in your workplace.
Your eyesight is tightly linked to your life and livelihood. Keep it safe as you work with safety eyewear, and go to the future with clarity.
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