Do you know anyone who’s suffered from an eye injury at work? It happens more often than you might think. According to an article from the American Optometrists Association, there are over 2,000 work-related eye injuries every day!
Most of these injuries could have been avoided if the worker was wearing the right kind of eye protection.
You’ve probably been harped on about wearing your safety glasses, right? We all have. Safety glasses are one of the most common forms of workplace PPE, or personal protective equipment.
It should be second nature by now to just wear them.
Sometimes though, safety glasses aren’t enough. Sure, they protect you from flying objects, dust, and other projectiles. But what about other hazards?
You’re probably exposed to a lot more than just dust in a typical workday.
Think about the work you did just this past week. Did you wear anything other than just standard safety glasses? If not, then maybe you should have. Especially if you’re a service technician or maintenance worker.
Anyone who works with hazardous radiation needs to think about protecting their eyes.
The primary danger is with the ultraviolet radiation, or UV radiation. Two common work activities that can result in UV exposure are welding work and laser operations. Both are frequently performed in the following industries:
- Oil and Gas
- Utility Work
So how familiar are you with UV eye protection? Do you know when to wear it? What your options are? What about the risks involved if you don’t wear it?
We’ve put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions related to UV eyewear, just for you. Let’s take a look.
What does UV eye protection do?
UV radiation can cause significant damage to the eyes. Protective eyewear will effectively block the harmful rays from reaching your eyes. Similar to how sunscreen is used to protect your skin.
The eye protection can help you avoid health problems such as:
- Retinal Burns
- Acute Pain and Discomfort
Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you not to look directly into the sun? There’s a reason for that. UV radiation from the sun can cause any of the health problems listed above.
The same goes for artificial sources of radiation.
In fact, the rays from welding and laser work are even more dangerous. The distance between your eyes and the UV radiation is much shorter in this situation. And, the intensity of the radiation is often much higher.
So take this hazard seriously. Use your UV eye protection whenever necessary.
How does UV eyewear protect me from welding hazards?
The intensity of visible light from welding work will vary. It depends on the task. The electrode size and arc current also affect the amount of UV radiation produced.
Workers must choose a filter lens with the appropriate shade number to protect them from the hazards produced during each particular job.
Wondering how to pick a shade number that’s sufficient enough?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put together some minimum requirements, based on the operation. The charts below will help you determine the right shade number.
These charts apply to workers who fall under the General Industry standard. For maritime and construction, refer back to the OSHA regulations and view the appropriate charts.
Keep in mind, that it’s not just welding work you need to be careful of. The same hazards can be present during cutting, grinding, and brazing work too.
How does UV eyewear protect me from laser operations?
Exposure to a powerful laser beam can be more dangerous than looking directly at the sun. Laser safety goggles can protect you from this hazard.
First, you need to figure out the maximum intensity that your laser could produce. Then, you can select a lense of the appropriate strength. Thankfully, OSHA has a chart similar to the one for welding lenses. Take a look below.
It doesn’t take much for you to experience the negative effects of laser exposure. So even if it’s not something you work with very often, make sure you are prepared for those few times you do need it.
What are the styles and options to choose from?
It’s important to choose the right PPE for the job. But with so many options, how do you know what’s best? UV eye protection is available in two main forms of PPE:
- Windows and Shields
Which of these have you worn on the job? Do you have a preference for one style over the other? There are definitely pros and cons to each. And, your choice might depend on the work you do.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these options.
Windows and Shields
Windows and shields are available in many different filter lens shades. You can get them for just about any welding or laser job you do. Here are some of the common styles you’ll see people wearing:
- Stationary Windows
- Lift-Front Windows
- Hand-Held Shields
- Welding Goggles
Welding helmets or “hoods,” are a popular choice for workers who do a lot of welding. Not only do they protect against UV, but they’re great for keeping sparks and slag away from the user’s face.
If you decide to go with a hood, make sure you get something that is lightweight and comfortable. Adjustability is another feature to keep in mind when doing your search.
Of course, the shade is important too. You can either get a fixed shade, a variable shade, or an auto-darkening shade.
A fixed shade is the more economical choice. But, you should only choose this option if you are always using the same arc welding process on the same material for every job. The auto-darkening shade is nice if you don’t want to make manual adjustments on a variable shade.
These days, you can find welding hoods in a wide variety of colors and graphics. This adds a bit of fun and personality, while still maintaining compliance. Have a favorite sports team you want to show off? You might be able to find a helmet with their emblem on it.
What are the risks of not wearing the proper UV eye protection?
Not wearing UV eye protection could result in retinal burns, cataracts, or even blindness. Obviously, you don’t want to experience any of these. The physical damage would be painful. But it doesn’t end there. Think of the other consequences of these eye problems.
Would you even be able to keep your job? What would that loss of income do to you and your family?
What about the emotional trauma? You’ve lived your entire life being able to see. Sight is something that we often take for granted. As soon as you lose it, you’ll wish you had stopped to appreciate it more.
These are all good reasons to take extra precautions when it comes to protection your eyes.
How do I learn more about UV eye protection?
There are plenty of resources you can turn to for more information on UV eye protection. For one, you could talk to your own eye doctor. If you’re concerned about any previous exposures, they might be able to help.
Otherwise, check with your company’s safety professional. They can point you in the right direction and help you figure out what you need to do your job safely.
Our staff here at RMI are also willing to help. Our family-owned business has been serving people like you for years. Stop in or check out our website to browse through our UV eyewear products. Questions? Just ask! Send us an email or give us a call.