Goodbye to those Buddy Holly glasses

October 12, 2009
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In today’s industrial society, comfort is the reason given by workers for not wearing safety eyewear or goggles. Manufacturers have spent time developing safety eyewear that is lightweight, flexible and adjustable. Plastic frames, rubber temples and rubber nosepieces are now more common among the most popular lines of safety eyewear. The soft touch temples and nosepieces provide the user with a higher level of comfort.

Some safety eyewear features a frameless design, which is more lightweight than the full frames in the market. Lightweight safety eyewear can apply less pressure to the face to provide added comfort. Materials such as polycarbonate have added to the lightweight design of both goggles and spectacles, improving the comfort of the worker which increases wearing time. These materials are one of the major differences from the safety eyewear of 20 years ago. The goggles of today feature soft, pliable frames that are not harsh to the user’s face and also create a better seal around the edge of the goggle.

Better fit=better performance
In order for eye protection to perform correctly, it needs to fit correctly. The goggle frame should form a comfortable seal around the worker’s face, leaving no gaps between the face and the frame. Safety eyewear should fit snugly; the nosepiece should not slide down the nose due to sweat or moisture. A typical assessment for correct fit is ensuring the frame makes contact with the worker’s head at four places: on the nose, at both temples and under at the cheekbone.

The different styles and shapes of safety eyewear and goggles are designed to fit varying facial shapes. Most safety eyewear offer features such as adjustable temples and nosepieces, allowing different workers to wear the same model of spectacle. Almost every goggle has an adjustable headband that allows for different head sizes. This also allows the user to find the correct pressure level so that the goggle fits snug, but doesn’t become uncomfortable.

The importance of clean and undamaged eyewear protection is commonly underestimated. The polycarbonate lenses of a safety spectacle or goggle need to be cleaned on a daily basis. Rough handling could result in scratches on the lens and should be avoided. Scratches impair vision and could weaken the lens. If a lens is damaged, it could fail to protect the user from a major impact. Damage to the temples can also result in failure to properly protect the user. Both goggles and eyewear should be kept in a clean, dry place where they cannot be damaged. Many manufacturers offer lens cleaning stations for keeping any type of vision protection clean.

Prescription safety eyewear
Many of the older safety eyewear and goggles had a larger and boxier design to fit over prescription safety eyewear. As eye protection has evolved into sleeker designs, these new designs no longer cover the glasses that many workers require to see. In order to protect these workers, some safety eyewear is now offered with rectangular sections of magnification called diopters. Most manufactures offer multiple levels of diopters to meet many different magnification levels. This type of safety eyewear works much like bifocals: normal vision is used for looking straight out or up, and magnified vision is used for looking down or in a reading position.

Another option for workers who wear prescription glasses is prescription inserts. Many glasses and goggles feature such inserts. Inserts are smaller, magnified lenses that are joined by the nose piece and connect to the safety eyewear or goggle. While this is an older solution, it is still offered by most of the major safety eyewear manufacturers. Most workforces will have at least one person who will require prescription or magnification eye protection, and products must be available to properly protect them from impacts. Features like lenses with diopters and magnification or prescription inserts can assist those workers with seeing items that they would not see with an ordinary safety lens.

Stylin’ safety
Safety eyewear and goggles of today look very different from those of just five years ago. Typically, workers would prefer to wear eyewear that looks good. The sleek sporty style of today’s safety eyewear tends to wrap around the worker’s face. This wraparound style improves the level of protection as it contours to the sides of the face, eliminating the need for snap-on side shields.

Advances in safety technology as well as fashion trends have guided the market to generate comfortable, safe and stylish eye protection. The current technology has allowed workers to wear products with improved fit and performance. It has also generated products with features not seen on normal sunglasses.

These changes have improved workers’ acceptance of vision safety over the past 25 years. A large variety of styles are abundant in the industry today. These styles are mostly driven from the sunglass market where style dominates the demand. As these styles of recreational glasses evolve and become the standard for the eyewear industry, designs begin to cross over to the safety eyewear market. The popular sunglasses of around five years ago are now the popular style for safety eyewear.

With the advancements in comfort, style and accessories, most safety eyewear has improved worker acceptance of eye protection. All companies strive to improve production and limit work-related incidences, but employee must participate in the proper practices in order to succeed. By developing new eye protection products that meet the expectations and requirements of the user and the safety standards required for the workplace, we can start to improve eye protection practices as a whole.

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