Eye protection against thrown objects, dust or splashing had been for a long time the main, if not the only, function of safety glasses. Medical and technological breakthroughs allowed us to understand the adverse effects of the light on the eyes better and develop more specialized protective equipment.
While the size and material of the glasses will protect the eyes against impacts, the lens will provide protection against radiation and improve the worker’s perception. UV rays, blue light, blinding snow, shadows; light brings its own set of challenges, so better have the right equipment.
To mitigate the intense effects of the light and filter harmful rays, most safety glasses have a UV filter that varies according to the different models. To provide a specific type of filter for a task, manufacturers have developed several different shades of lenses.
The benefits and limits of each shade
Some shades, such as orange, blue or purple, will allow more light in, which will blur colour perception. Therefore, those tints are not recommended for workers who must work with colour codes or traffic lights. On the other hand, amber, smoke or espresso lenses will reflect colours more accurately.
For outdoors, smoke shades are preferable, as well as mirror silver or blue. The last two protect against excessive glaring and reduce reflection. Espresso lenses offer basically the same benefits, in addition to improving depth perception and reducing eye fatigue.
As for amber lenses, they improve contrast and are particularly efficient in low light. However, they are not designed for outdoor use.
Neon lighting is known to cause eye fatigue among workers. A blue-tint lens cancels yellow light, in addition to having a very pleasant effect on the human eye.
Coloured lenses, beyond eye protection
Many work accidents are caused by visual perception deficiency. Some tasks put the workers more at risk. For example, think about forklift operators driving from one building to another. The indoor/outdoor mirror lens has been specifically designed for them, as it reduces the changes in light intensity.
A hand, a foot or even a life could be saved with an improved depth and contrast perception when using different lens shades.
How to ensure employees have access to the best protection?
Within a company, the more numerous and varied the tasks, the more difficult it will be to provide adequate eye protection for workers. Therefore, it is important to create and implement a methodical management of the workers’ needs concerning eye safety. To achieve this, it must include the following:
— The documentation of all positions and tasks requiring eye protection;
— The determination of light sources, as well as the type and degree of glare found in the different work places; and
— The identification of the risks for the eyes.
Complete this exercise in collaboration with employees to identify more specific sources of visual discomfort and better understand the task requirements for visual acuity.
However, only providing the employees with the right protective equipment is not enough to prevent accidents. It is important for workers to be informed of the potential workplace hazards in order to increase awareness. This is particularly important concerning radiation. It is a dangerous threat, as its harmful effects on the eyes are rarely immediate. Instead, radiation has long-term consequences that are often irreversible. Do not neglect the future health of your employees’ eyes.
Headquartered in Blainville, Quebec, SPI Health and Safety partners with Canadian employers nationwide to offer complete health and safety solutions.