Eye Protection

Jan. 24, 2011
The latest safety tips, trends and products in the construction eyewear arena

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), each day more than 2,000 workers in the United States receive some form of medical treatment for eye injuries sustained on the job. In the majority of cases, contact with small particles, an object, or equipment (e.g., metal slivers, wood chips, dust, and cement chips ejected by tools or the wind) caused the injury by striking or abrading the eye; however, exposure to harmful substances (e.g., industrial chemicals, cleaning products, thermal burns) or environments is also a leading contributor. About one-third of injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments, and more than 100 of these result in one or more days off work.

Looking at this accident profile a little more closely, approximately 60% of workers sustaining eye injuries were not wearing proper protective eyewear, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those injuries, an estimated 90% could be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear on the job, says the National Eye Institute. In addition to the physical ramifications eye injuries impose on construction workers and employers, OSHA reports they also cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.

Because construction workers have one of the highest eye injury rates of any profession, it’s important for electrical contractors, technicians, and laborers to follow stringent eye safety protocol while on the job site. Following is a roundup of eye protection facts, tips, and products that will help keep your eyes strictly focused on safety.

ANSI Z87.1-2010: “American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection”

ANSI Z87.1-2010 establishes performance criteria and testing requirements for devices used to protect the eyes and face against injuries from impact, non-ionizing radiation, and chemical exposure in the workplace and schools. It covers all types of protective devices, including spectacles (plano and prescription), goggles, faceshields, welding helmets and handshields, and full facepiece respirators.

Helpful OSHA eTool

For help determining if you’re wearing the proper protective eye protection for your workplace per OSHA requirements, as well as an employer’s responsibility in ensuring worker safety, visit OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection eTool at This interactive, Web-based training tool answers users’ questions and offers advice on how OSHA regulations apply to their work site. As indicated in the disclaimer, however, eTools does not create new OSHA requirements, and users should not rely on PPE alone to provide protection against hazards.

Eye Safety Checklist

Following is a checklist to refresh your memory on commonsense safety tips that will help protect your eyesight on the job site. For additional information, visit

  1. Create a safe work environment
    • Minimize hazards from falling or unstable debris.
    • Make sure tools work properly and safety features (machine guards)
      are in place.
    • Make sure workers (particularly volunteers) know how to use
      tools properly.
    • Keep bystanders out of the hazard area.
  2. Evaluate safety hazards
    • Identify the primary hazards at the site.
    • Identify hazards posed by nearby workers, large machinery, and falling/shifting debris.
  3. Wear the proper eye and face protection
    • Select the appropriate Z87 eye protection for the hazard.
    • Make sure the eye protection is in good condition.
    • Make sure the eye protection fits and will stay in place.
  4. Use good work practices
    • Caution — Brush, shake, or vacuum dust and debris from hardhats,
      hair, forehead, or the top of the eye protection before removing the
    • Do not rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing.
    • Clean eyewear regularly.
  5. Prepare for eye injuries and first aid needs. Have an eye wash or sterile solution on hand.


Eyewear with solar protection

The company’s flagship Uvex brand recently launched Uvex SolarPro safety eyewear. Like all Uvex lenses, the new style provides 99.9% ultraviolet protection. Available in eight lens tints, including mirrored, polarized and photochromic, Uvex SolarPro reduces solar glare and eye fatigue. The style’s 100% dielectric design makes it safe for work in electrical environments. Uvex SolarPro features Uvex’s new Supra-Dura anti-scratch coating, Uvextreme anti-fog coating, and Dura-streme dual anti-fog/anti-scratch coating options. Its padded temples and nosepiece deliver a non-slip fit, and four-position ratcheting temples make it easy to adjust the lens angle. The eyewear comes with a lifetime frame guarantee.

Sperian Protection
Circle 175

Spectacle-to-goggle eyewear

Swap protective eyewear features two products in one — a safety spectacle and safety goggle. Swap comes with temples for use as safety glasses as well as a head strap to make it a safety goggle. Suitable for workers who perform a variety of tasks throughout the day, Swap can easily turn from spectacle to goggle by swapping the temples and head strap with a simple snap. Swap eyewear combines all-day comfort with the all-around impact protection of a one-piece polycarbonate lens. The two-color temples are rubberized, and the head strap is fully adjustable to fit any size head. The Swap frame is fully lined with soft, smooth foam that blocks dust and debris. Venting channels minimize fogging and help maintain a clear field of vision. The lens meets ANSI Z87.1+ and CSA Z94.3 standards and offers 99.9% UVA, UVB, and UVC protection. Swap is available in Clear and Clear Anti-Fog for most indoor applications; Gray Anti-Fog and Blue Mirror Anti-Fog to minimize strong sunlight and glare in outdoor applications; and Clear In/Out Mirror Anti-Fog for varying light conditions.

Gateway Safety
Circle 176

Diopter-style safety spectacles

Protecting workers while enabling them to see more clearly on the job, Gemstone Myst Flex Y19CFC Reader Style Safety Spectacles offer bifocals aimed to improve vision, accuracy, and performance. Available in five magnification levels — from a 1.0 to 3.0 diopter — the new Myst Flex reader styles feature hard-coated, polycarbonate, wraparound lenses that meet the ANSI Z87.1-2003 High Impact Resistant Standard as well as provide 99.9% UV protection. Gemstone Myst Flex Y19CFC Readers are available in +1.0, +1.5, +2.0, +2.5, +3.0 diopter bi-focal lenses and feature matching polycarbonate temples, black PVC tips, and a clear, cushioned PVC nose pad that increases comfort and ensures a secure fit.

Magid Glove & Safety
Circle 177

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EC&M, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations