By Glyn Jones
Best Practices for Optimal Protection
Like all tools essential for completing work safely, safety eyewear needs to be cared for properly if it is to function as expected. The key to an employee’s success in maintaining and caring for their safety eyewear is helping them get into a routine that includes regular cleaning, proper use, and proper storage. Employees also need to be coached so they consistently follow best practices for use and storage. This will help them stay protected while getting the best value from their safety eyewear.
A daily pre-use inspection is needed to carefully examine the safety eyewear for cracks, scratches, or breaks. Scratches will tend to reduce or distort vision, making it harder for employees to do their work. Even a small crack can cause eyewear to fail in providing adequate impact protection.
Cleaning Your Eyewear
Safety eyewear needs to be cleaned daily, and in some dusty work environments it may need to be cleaned multiple times each day. Cleaning methods can be simple, such as giving them a quick rinse under cool water and then drying them with a microfibre cloth. In some workplaces a regular, more thorough cleaning will be required.
Cleaning should be taught as including 4 steps:
- First lightly blow off any loose dirt or debris from the lenses and then give them a quick rinse with cool water. Follow up by wiping dry with a lens cleaning cloth, such as the one provided with each Eyesafe order.
- After the rinse and dry stage, spraying cleaning solution directly onto the lenses will help cut grease or any tougher streaks. The lenses should be dried with a microfibre cloth and then finish by air-drying before re-wearing.
- Remember to clean the side shields, arms, and the nose piece as well. These pieces can get oily and grimy, which can easily migrate to the lenses so keeping all the parts of the safety eyewear clean is important. Oily safety eyewear may tend to slide down the nose, creating openings and allow access to particulates or other hazardous agents.
- The final step is for employees to remember to put their safety eyewear back on!
What NOT to Use
Employees should be told not to use household cleaners, industrial cleaners, hand sanitizer, or silicone-based cleaners on their lenses. Shirt fabric or bathroom tissue should not be used to clean glasses because these can damage protective lens coatings, cause the lenses to become scratched, or leave a thin film or residue on the lenses. Scratched lenses are harder to see through clearly, can impair vision, cause eye strain, and they fog more easily.
Use of an anti-fog coating or solution will enhance the performance of safety eyewear. Anti-fog treatments are effective in reducing fogging when transitioning between different temperature work environments or when employees are working hard and sweating. Many brands of safety eyewear have an anti-fog coating applied during their manufacture. Safety eyewear that does not have the coating can have an anti-fog solution applied to reduce fogging, but this solution needs to be re-applied after each cleaning.
Remind employees about proper storage of safety eyewear between uses. Storage is essential and a key part of ensuring eyewear is not broken. The best option for storing safety eyewear is to keep it in a hard case. Many manufacturers provide hard cases. A second storage option would be to use a microfibre pouch when not in use. It is best to keep safety eyewear in a desk drawer or a locker when not in use.
A safety eyewear neck strap should be used if an employee’s job requires the safety eyewear to be removed during breaks or when away from the hazardous work. When not in use for these short periods of time, the employee’s safety eyewear can hand from their neck, keeping them in close view and readily available to put on when the time comes. If a neck strap is to be used, ensure it is detachable, allowing it to tear away should it get caught on any equipment.
Safety eyewear needs to be replaced from time-to-time. Set up a system to allow employees to turn in damaged or scratched safety eyewear for replacement. Safety eyewear should be replaced as soon as it becomes damaged to optimize functionality and protection. Ensure employees know who they should see to review the condition of their safety eyewear and get it replaced when necessary.
Safety glasses provide much-needed protection for eyes in a variety of workplace settings. Proper care keeps them in top working condition and to maximize their value and longevity. Consistent and proper maintenance of safety eyewear needs to become a habit to maintain their good condition and function.