We all know that eye protection can’t help you if you don’t wear it. And employees won’t wear protection if they don’t like the way it looks or feels. With this is mind, expect to see many changes in the development of eye protection over the next few years, as manufacturers continue to develop products to improve wearer comfort, durability and style.

New designs promise to be lighter and more comfortable, offering better performance in a wider variety of applications. Combined with sharp new styling, these innovations will be designed to lift the next generation of eyewear to higher levels of acceptance.

What’s appropriate?

The Z87.1-2003 standard in eye protection offers categories to help end-users choose the appropriate pair of safety eyewear. This standard is broken into two levels: basic impact and high impact. The high-impact eyewear is marked with the manufacturers’ symbol or logo and a plus sign. As far as the level of impact is concerned, the end-user simply has to look for products that meet the level of the standard which addresses the existing workplace hazards. However, higher priced products may have additional features, such as adjustable temples and foam padding for added comfort. Another factor that may add to the cost of the product is a lens coating. Hard coatings and anti-fog treatments are more expensive to produce, but may be necessary in your workplace.

If you are unsure as to what type of eyewear is necessary in your workplace or for a certain impact hazard, purchasing a high-impact product is recommended. Of course, it is essential to have the right type of eye protection for the type of hazards present at the workplace. When choosing the correct eyewear for the job, you should understand the extent of the hazard, type of risk, level of risk and the potential for injury.

Greater emphasis

Getting workers to wear eye protection continues to be one of the greatest challenges for safety managers. Many accidents have occurred because of hazards that have existed in workplaces where eye and face protection should have been used, but was not. In these circumstances, users felt that eye protection was not necessary and chose not to wear it because of comfort, fit and weight. Companies should place a greater emphasis on eyewear safety, including training on proper use of eye protection. This will increase the awareness for the need for eye protection for employees.

Comfort is being addressed, effectively, by manufacturers with new features. There are a variety of lenses, different shapes for various coverage needs and effective temple adjustment and lighter weight materials for comfort that meet Z87.1-2003. Safety eyewear continues to be updated to add current styling, while continuing to offer full coverage protection.

Because every user is different, having a variety of protective eyewear and using them properly is a key component to reducing eye injury. There are different face sizes, so one type of eyewear may be comfortable for one person, but not another. Many people have the tendency to use eye protection improperly, so fitting the user properly means the difference in getting good protection and limited protection.

Although comfort is a key factor in employee choice, employees and employers need to look for the ANSI Z87.1+ high-impact symbol on eyewear to ensure the highest level of protection.

Reap the benefits

With all of these advances in eye protection, wearers will reap the benefits, as protection levels, comfort and usability all increase. Someday, instead of forgetting to wear their eye protection, workers may forget that they even have them on.