When it comes to caring for safety eyewear employees need to be provided with the education and training necessary to maintain safety eyewear if it is to be functional and last a long time. The basics require employees develop a routine that includes regular cleaning, proper use and proper storage. Coaching them to understand these 8 “do’s and don’ts” will help them stay protected while getting the best value from their safety eyewear.
- Do - 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.
- Do - 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 then drying with a microfibre cloth. In some cases a more thorough cleaning may 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.
- Don’t - Use saliva, household cleaners, industrial cleaner, hand sanitizer or silicone-based cleaners as a cleaning solution, and do not use your shirt or a tissue 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. Scratched lenses can also lead to reduced lens clarity and increased lens fogging.
- Do - Clean the side shields, temple arms and nose piece, too. The side shields, temple arms and nose piece of safety eyewear can get oily and grimy, and this can easily migrate to the lens or wear down the frame material. Oily safety eyewear tends to slide down the nose creating openings where particulate or another hazardous agent may enter.
- Do - 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.
- Do - 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. Ensure that the neck strap is detachable allowing it to tear away should it get caught on any equipment.
- Do - 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. Ensure employees know who they can speak to in order to review the condition of their safety eyewear and get it replaced when necessary.
- Do - Use an anti-fog coating or solution. Many brands of safety eyewear come with an anti-fog coating. If your safety eyewear does not have the coating, an anti-fog solution can be applied. This solution must be applied after each cleaning. Anti-fog treatments are effective in reducing fogging when transitioning between different temperature work environments or when employees are working hard and sweating.
Safety glasses provide much needed protection for eyes in a variety of workplace settings. Following these 8 tips will help increase the longevity and usefulness of your safety eyewear. Consistent and proper maintenance of safety eyewear needs to become a habit to maintain their good condition and function.
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.