Canadian Occupational Safety

October/November 2019

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 35

29 2019 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER he says. "It's the same as going and exercising and doing 20 curls and all of a sudden your bicep becomes tired." For the construction workers in this example, a silver mirrored tint (or indoor-outdoor tint) can help with the transition between lighting con- ditions, so the pupil doesn't have to overexert itself to adjust. Scratched lenses can also lead to eye fatigue because any time the lens is scratched, the eye has to work on overdrive. "Even if you can't see that your lens is scratched, your eye is still over- working, because your muscles are overreacting to filter out the scratches to make sure your vision is clear," says Anne Hester, product management specialist at HexArmor. "And then you're going to get eye strain, fatigue and headaches, even if you don't nec- essarily know why until you take off your glasses and see the scratch. It could be in the corner, too." Workers need to be educated on how to properly care for their safety eyewear — just like their other per- sonal protective equipment (PPE) — to avoid scratching the lenses. Unfortunately, the "care" part of PPE is often overlooked, says MacDuffee. "They take their safety glasses and throw them in their truck on the floor," she says. Yet another eyewear trait that can cause eye strain is poor optical clarity, which is one of the hardest for safety professionals and workers to recog- nize. This may include aberrations (distortions) or colour changes. "If you put on a pair of glasses and you feel funky, there may be induced astigmatism — a feeling of fishbowl vision," says Allred. While it might be fine when look- ing through the middle of the lens, there can be issues when the workers are looking up, down or to the sides, also known as peripheral distortion. For example, if you look off in the distance at a row of trees, they might look like they are swaying side to side or becoming disformed, says Florek, noting the eye has to correct for this. A lot of these issues stem from poor- quality lenses. Many employers opt to purchase boxes of cheap safety glasses so they are technically in compliance with the legislation — but these $1- or $2-per-pair glasses are not the best. "They don't last very long, they are flimsy, if they are left out in the sun… it can affect their shape, the lenses, the coatings," says MacDuffee. "The quality of safety eyewear is like anything else. If you're going to buy the cheapest har- ness or lifeline for someone to work at heights, is that what you're going for? The cheapest? Or are you looking for something that's going to last a long time and is going to save a life?" When explaining the importance of quality eyewear to her clients, MacDuf- fee breaks down the costs of an eye injury for the employer, which she estimates to be upwards of $200,000. She takes into consideration how long the worker is off work (six months in this calculation), medical costs, hiring a replacement worker and surcharges from the workers' compensation board. "The better quality they are, the more comfortable they are, the workers are more likely to wear them, they are more likely to care for them because often they look a lot cooler than the cheaper ones and then they are more likely to comply," says MacDuffee. Yet another issue with poor quality eyewear is that it can have a negative effect on employee productivity. At an aggregate mining company, work- ers were coming back to the trailer to replace their eyewear once or twice a day because their disposable glasses were getting all scratched up and dirt and debris was getting into their eyes, recalls Florek. "That's an inefficient process in and of itself," he says. "Then, over the course of the day, that starts to wear on you and even long-term effects of having to do this day in and day out, the work- place productivity goes down." CHOOSING EYEWEAR Before employers embark on selecting the right eye protection for their work- ers that will not lead to eye fatigue, they first need to conduct a hazard assessment. They need to confirm what safety eyewear is needed for spe- cific tasks and related risks. A good eyewear manufacturer will ask the employer a variety of questions. They should be trying to learn about the problems faced at the company and explore options for solving them. Choose a manufacturer with a good reputation and that has knowl- edge of relevant CSA standards and optics in general. Listen to your employees to find out what is bothering them about their current eyewear. This will not only help with the proper selection, but it can boost morale, says Florek. "They might have been complain- ing for years, 'They only provide us the cheapest stuff and it's not the right PPE for our applications,'" he says. It's also crucial to select a manu- facturer that will do a trial run of the eyewear with your employees. "If you don't engage workers in any type of safety, from any aspect, whether it's writing a procedure or selecting PPE, they're less likely to comply," says MacDuffee. "If workers are engaged, they feel involved in the solution and they are more likely to be invested and comply — and who better to talk to than the workers who are actually doing the task and wearing the PPE?" Employees need training on the signs and symptoms of eye strain and eye fatigue, as well as on how the glasses should fit and feel. They also need to be encouraged to speak up if they are having issues with their safety eyewear and not be afraid to tell their employer they need to try a different style, MacDuffee says. But the most important thing very well might be educating employees on eye injuries in general and truly helping them understand the impor- tance of wearing their safety eyewear. Explain how if something happens to their vision at work it would impact their personal lives, Florek says. Some employers are allowing workers to take a pair of safety glasses home to reinforce this point. "They can use them when doing woodworking or something as simple as weed whacking the lawn," he says. "Because if they get hurt at home, that affects them being able to come into work and do their job as well." When MacDuffee is talking to work- ers about PPE, she tries to get them to "look a bit further than themselves." Ultimately, she wants them to wear the safety glasses because they want to, not because they have to. "How will that affect your family if you don't wear [safety glasses] and you get injured?" she asks. "I want them to see their children and grandchildren grow clearly. If you take them out of the workplace and look at how it's going to affect everybody else if some- thing happens, you kind of see a light go on." COS Employees need training on the signs and symptoms of eye strain and eye fatigue, as well as on how the glasses should fit and feel. INTRINSIC LOW PROFILE INTRINSIC LOW PROFILE HIGH PROFILE ORIGINAL *Geroline Intrinsic models are the only internationally certified Spark Proof Ice Cleats in North America. Universal fit Durable studs Industrial quality Hi-Vis adjustable strap Can be worn while driving Rotate as needed INTRINSIC HIGH PROFILE Geroline Inc. is proud to sponsor the 2019 Canada's Safest Employers Awards. Congratulations to all Winners & Nominees! 1 844 K1 CLEAT | 1 844 512 5328 * * *

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian Occupational Safety - October/November 2019