Safety eyewear is one of the most important pieces of personal protective equipment an employee will ever wear. While selection and proper use are important, safety eyewear needs to be maintained if it is to be able to perform as designed over the useful life of the equipment. Employees need to be coached on how to maintain all PPE including their safety eyewear. Here are the top 7 best habits for maintaining your safety eyewear.

  1. Inspect your personal protective equipment daily. Look carefully at your safety eyewear for cracks, scratches or breaks. Scratches reduce or distort vision. Even a small crack can cause eyewear to fail to provide the protection should an impact occur.
  2. Keep your safety eyewear clean. Safety eyewear needs to be cleaned daily and in some work environments multiple times per day. Cleaning can be as simple as a quick rinse under cool water and them drying them with a microfibre cloth. In some cases a more thorough cleaning will be required. Cleaning is a 5-step process:
    Step 1: Lightly blow off any loose dirt or debris from your lenses.
    Step 2: Rinse your lenses with cool water.
    Step 3: Spray a lens cleaning solution directly onto the lenses.
    Step 4: Dry both lenses using a safety eyewear wipe or a microfibre cloth. Let the lenses finish air-drying before re-wearing.
    Step 5: Put them back on! Safety eyewear needs to be worn to work.
  3. Do not use saliva, household cleaners, hand sanitizer or silicone-based cleaners and do not use your shirt to clean your glasses. These can damage protective lens coatings, cause the lenses to become scratched or leave a thin film or residue on your lenses.
  4. Clean the sideshields and arms too. The sideshields and arms of safety eyewear can get oily and grimy. This oil and grime can easily migrate to the lens so keeping all the parts of safety eyewear clean is important.
  5. Ensure proper storage. The best option for storing safety eyewear is to keep it in a hard case or in a safety eyewear microfiber pouch when not in use. Store safety eyewear in a locker when not in use.
  6. Use a safety eyewear neck strap. Many jobs allow for safety eyewear to be removed during breaks when away from the hazardous work area or during a meeting. When not in use for short periods of time safety eyewear glasses can hang from the wearer’s neck keeping them in close view and readily available to put on when the time comes.
  7. Replace safety eyewear when necessary. Damaged or scratched safety eyewear is a safety hazard and can impair vision and strain eyes. Replace safety eyewear as soon as it becomes damaged to optimize functionality and protection.
  8. Use an anti-fog coating or solution. It is common for safety eyewear to come with an anti-fog coating. If your safety eyewear does not have the coating an anti-fog solution can be applied. Anti-fog solution needs to be re-applied after cleaning. Anti-fog treatments are effective in reducing fogging when transitioning between different temperature work environments or when employees are working hard and sweating. Anti-fog treatments are an effective way to keep safety eyewear clear of fog.

Safety glasses provide much-needed protection for eyes in a variety of workplace settings. Following these 7 tips will help increase the longevity and usefulness of your safety eyewear. Proper maintenance will help to increase their effectiveness and ensure they function as designed. Investing in a good pair of safety eyewear is important. Maintaining your PPE is important to maximizing the value and longevity. Consistent and proper maintenance of safety eyewear needs to become a habit to maintain their good condition and keep them looking great.

Glyn Jones is a partner at EHS Partnerships Ltd. in Calgary. He is a consulting occupational health and safety professional with 30 years of experience. He is a regular safety conference speaker in Canada, and he provides program design and instructional support to the University of New Brunswick’s OHS certificate and diploma programs.