Are fit-over safety glasses still safety relevant?
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) there are over 2000 eye injuries in the US every single day as a result of flying objects and particles, chemicals, radiation and other hazards.
The American Optometric Association states that the main reasons employees experience eye injuries are either not wearing eye protection at all, or wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job.
(Read these 10 Key Facts About Eye Protection.)
When an employee decides not to wear safety glasses at all, it is often because they wear prescription glasses to correct their vision and believe they have to choose between seeing well or protecting their eyes. Even if they're aware of the risks, they might decide against prescription safety glasses because they're so expensive.
Employees might also believe, erroneously, that their prescription glasses will provide adequate protection for their workplace hazards.
The best solution for the scenarios above is over the glass (OTG) or fit-over safety glasses and goggles. These fit right over the prescription glasses, allowing the user to have their vision corrected by the prescription lenses while providing adequate impact or chemical protection.
(Learn more about Goggles vs. Glasses: Which Is the Right Safety Eyewear for Your Job?)
Why OTG Instead of Safety Prescription Glasses?
Safety prescription glasses have come a long way. At first glance, they are almost indistinguishable from regular prescription glasses. They are a good choice for full-time use, but OTG safety glasses have several advantages in the workplace:
- They are cheap – OTG eyewear is usually as cheap as a regular pair of safety glasses. They can be replaced at a small cost when they get damaged, which happens often (sometimes after only a few days of use). Replacing a pair of prescription safety glasses will be substantially more expensive.
- They are convenient for the employer – OTG is standard and will fit over most prescription glasses. Ordering safety prescription glasses customized for each employee is more complicated from a logistical standpoint.
- Our vision also changes over time. If an employee needs to update their prescription, they won't need to change their OTG safety glasses.
- Variety – There is a large variety of OTG. When the hazards change (impact, chemical, etc.) or the needs of the user change (dark, clear, vented, etc.) there is a pair of OTG for that. Having a pair of prescription safety glasses for all these scenarios is all but impossible.
- Can be removed in the office – Not many of us want to wear our safety glasses when we're in the office. OTGs can simply be removed, while the user will continue to wear their prescription glasses.
- Contact lens bans – Many employers ban the use of contact lenses, especially in workplaces with hazardous chemicals. For their employees, the combination of prescription glasses and OTG is the only available option.
While fit-over safety glasses might not be the most aesthetically pleasing option, they are cheap, versatile, and come in many sizes, tints, treatments, and boast various protective properties. That makes them a great choice for any worker who wears prescription glasses. A quick search of any PPE retailer will show a variety of OTG, proof that OTG is in high demand and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Written by Karoly Ban Matei | HR and Safety Manager
Karoly has worked at a senior level (both as an employee and a contractor) for organizations in the construction and manufacturing industries. He has a passion for developing and improving health and safety programs.
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