Safety eyewear should be regularly inspected to ensure it continues to offer sufficient protection. BRAD RODGERS spots the five telltale signs your safety glasses need replacing.
Age, damage and general wear and tear can all reduce the effectiveness of protective eyewear, while changes to work or personal circumstances can result in it no longer being fit for the task, wearer or environment. Although many remember to consider the fit of safety eyewear when choosing it initially, it can be easy to forget about the ongoing suitability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
At times it will be necessary to upgrade or replace damaged, old or inappropriate protective eyewear to maintain adequate protection against hazards such as impacts, heat, chemicals, dust and radiation. While the Australian Standards do not indicate a set replacement schedule for safety eyewear, these five signs will help you decide if it is time to get a new pair.
The five signs
1. You have recently changed jobs or increased your responsibilities
Any changes to your work environment or tasks may require a new pair of protective eyewear to match the additional or new hazards you will be facing. For example, medium-impact safety glasses that you have used for drilling are not adequate protection against chemical hazards as splashes can get around the lenses. Safety goggles or face shields should be used instead.
So before you do a few extra jobs around the site, ensure you are adequately protected from all potential hazards by conducting a thorough risk assessment.
2. Your safety eyewear is damaged
Damaged protective eyewear is not safe eyewear, so whether it is a knock from a projectile that cracks the lens or notable scratches that impair your vision, do yourself a favour and get a new pair. This also applies if you have used your safety glasses for a task that they are unfit for. Exposure to chemicals or heat could compromise their integrity, making it unwise to keep using them, even for their intended purpose.
To prevent accidental damage, make sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning, maintenance and storage of your safety eyewear.
3. Your safety eyewear is old
Later models of protective eyewear may offer greater protection thanks to advances in technology and materials. While an old pair of safety specs may have served you well, it is worth checking out new products on the market to see if there are safety features that you are missing out on.
4. Your prescription changes
If you use prescription safety eyewear, then any time your prescription changes, you need a new pair of safety glasses. No excuses. Additionally, make sure to have regular eye checks at the optometrist, especially if you have noticed yourself squinting or getting headaches. Being unable to see clearly is not going to help you stay safe.
5. You cannot see clearly and it is not your eyesight
Perhaps your lenses stay blurry despite cleaning, they are always fogging up or the sun’s glare is bothering you more recently. As safety glasses age, special surface coatings can start to wear away and offer less protection, resulting in reduced clarity of vision. Just like with prescription lenses, if you cannot see clearly then you need a new pair.
Employers have a legal responsibility to provide workers with adequate PPE at all times, including safety eyewear if appropriate. This also means being broadly aware of when replacement eyewear may be necessary, such as when starting a new project or reassigning duties. Additionally, recording issue dates and scheduling regular inspections can help to ensure that damage to eyewear is caught early.
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