What impact protection do I need for my safety eyewear?
Australians suffer around 50,000 eye injuries every year even though many of them were wearing eye protection at the time of their injury.
Safety eyewear is often incorrectly fitted, is not rated appropriately for the task or does not provide adequate protection, according to a 2008 report from Safe Work Australia (SWA).
Ordinary eyewear, such as prescription glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses, does not offer appropriate eye protection and can actually increase the severity of injuries in the event of an incident.
Eye injuries can lead to permanent vision loss, contributing to depression, and can negatively affect work and social relationships, as described in a Comcare ‘Eye Health in the Workplace’ guide.
The most dangerous injuries for the eyes are construction, mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, in which 60% of all eye injuries in Australia occur.
It is therefore critical you have the appropriate eye protection. That means knowing when to use medium, high or extra high impact rated eye protection and when to use safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields or a combination of these.
How to choose the impact rating
Eye protection impact ratings are determined by the PPE’s ability to withstand an impact from a specifically weighted ball without cracking, detaching or dislodging, breaking or coming into contact with the eye or the head.
|Impact rating||Rating requirement||Suitable tasks|
|Low impact||Can withstand impact from an object moving at 12 metres per second.||Chipping, riveting, spalling, hammering and managing a strap under tension. Choose safety glasses with a Standards mark.|
|Medium impact||Can withstand impact from an object moving up to 45 metres per second.||Scaling, grinding and machining metals, some woodworking tasks, stone dressing, wire handling and brick cutting. Choose safety glasses with a Standards mark ‘I or F’.|
|High impact (visor only)||Can withstand impact from an object moving up to 120 metres per second.||Metal chipping, hydraulic nailing or any mechanical procedure involving high velocity machinery.|
|Extra high impact (visor only)||Can withstand impact from an object moving up to 190 metres per second.||Any mechanical procedure involving very high velocity machinery.|
The difference between glasses, goggles and face shields
While impact resistance is critical you should also consider whether you need safety glasses, safety goggles, a face shield or a combination of these.
Safety glasses allow air in and around the eye area while safety goggles fit tight against the face, offering protection against dust and splashes. Face shields provide further protection and can also be worn over spectacles or goggles.
In determining suitable safety eyewear, a risk assessment should be carried out by a qualified OHS professional to choose what suits your work environment.
Also consider the type of lense, the shape of your head and if anti-fog lenses for use in humid conditions are required.
Check the certification of PPE
The AS/NZS1337.1:2010 Standards certification means you have quality assurance that the product will perform as stated. Check your safety eyewear to see if it has the Australian Standards logo, which indicates it conforms to tests for impact resistance.
The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can cause a range of debilitating health conditions, from mild irritation to cataracts and cancer of the conjunctiva. Therefore, it’s important to also consider UV protection.
All Pro Safety Gear protective eyewear is rated medium impact or higher, has polycarbonate lenses, has 99.9% UV protection (even those with clear lenses) and is certified to AS/NZS1337.1:2010 Standards.
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