How long does safety eyewear last? Well, there is a recommended shelf life for everything, and that includes safety eyewear. Many types of safety protective equipment, like safety harnesses, hard hats, disposable respirators and even sunscreen, have actual expiry dates. To know how often safety eyewear will last depends on the type and how the glasses have been used. Here are the top five signs that it’s time to replace your safety eye wear.

  1. Things are getting blurry. If you find it is getting harder and harder to see, your prescription may have changed, and it is time to get your eyes examined. Every time your prescription changes you will need to get a new pair of safety eyewear. Obviously, good vision is important for safe work. A regular visit to your optometrist for an eye exam should be required for all employees and included as an important part of any eye safety program.
  2. Things are getting blurry and you have been to see your optometrist so it’s not your eyesight. Maybe your lenses stay blurry even after cleaning. You may notice that they fog up more often. You might also start noticing a little more glare than there used to be. Maybe you find yourself squinting a little more often to see things clearly. All of these symptoms are of worn or scratched lenses. As safety eyewear ages the surface treatment designed to be anti-fog or anti-glare can get worn by multiple small or large scratches. This wear on the special surface coatings will result in reduced clarity of vision that may be perceived as blurriness.
  3. Your safety eyewear is quite old. It isn’t just about it being out of style. There are constantly new products coming out on the market that offer better protective features. It is no exaggeration to say that if your safety eyewear is more than three years old there is a good chance that there are new products now available that have added features to improve visibility and safety. It’s not about being cool or hip but the truth is technology changes and some of the new safety eyewear has better performance features than the old equipment. Keep up to date!
  4. Your safety eyewear is damaged. It may not be obvious, but if your safety eyewear gets damaged by impact or over-use it will not be able to perform when needed. Whether it’s from stopping a projectile or being dropped too many times, you don’t want a damaged pair of safety eyewear between your eyes and workplace hazards. Consider the duty and length of use in deciding when it is time for new safety eyewear. When in doubt your safety eyewear.
  5. You have just changed jobs or started a new job that includes new tasks. Safety eyewear selection requires you do a review or inventory of tasks to make sure you have the right equipment. A hazard assessment is required to make sure that the safety eyewear in use is appropriate. Selecting safety eyewear is a detailed process that takes into consideration the characteristics of the wearer, the jobs, tasks, and the environment. You can’t always just take your old safety eyewear to your new job and be sure you are protected. Changes to your work environment mean it’s also time to update your hazard assessment.

Safety eyewear is a critical piece of personal protective equipment. To lengthen the useful life of your safety eyewear, maintain and clean the equipment regularly, and store it properly between uses. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for cleaning, maintenance, and storage of the product. Inspect your safety eyewear before every use and make a regular check of its operation and functionality to ensure you are meeting the highest safety standards. Your sight is a gift that deserves protecting.

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.