Project1_Layout 1 07/05/2013 SAFETY, ACCESS & TOOLS
The benefits of prescription safety eyewear, according to Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare
Employees working on-site carrying out
roofing, cladding and insulation work may
well have a requirement for eye protection.
It is up to the safety manager to assess the
risks and to decide what type and level of
personal protection equipment (PPE) is required.
Goggles have historically been the only option
for eye protection. In recent years, however, safety
managers have been able to opt for safety glasses
for low energy impacts. These may be preferable to
safety goggles as they tend to be slimmer, lighter,
more comfortable and more stylish. This is a good
solution for many but, for those who wear normal
glasses in their everyday lives, the options are often
still rather less satisfactory.
The issue of over-goggles
Over-goggles are still regularly used on construction
sites for those who have prescription glasses. These
are where the individual literally just wears goggles
over the top of their own glasses. The use of this
option is surprisingly wide-spread. Specsavers
Corporate Eyecare recently commissioned research
that revealed that over half (54%) of employers
are still providing over-goggles to those who wear
The issue with wearing goggles on top of glasses
is the increase in light reflection that can be caused
between the two sets of lenses. This can impact the
quality of vision. In addition, wearing two sets of
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eyewear can feel awkward and uncomfortable. These
issues tend to make over-goggles a less adequate
solution for anything other than brief or occasional
use, which is unlikely to be the situation for roofers
and those with similar roles.
Our research has shown over the years that
employees will remove safety eyewear when it is
not safe to do so if it is uncomfortable or does not fit
well. Working at height and in awkward or confined
spaces all have their own additional challenges and
make the comfort and fit of PPE arguably even
more important than ever. The solution is to provide
prescription safety glasses.
These avoid the issues of two sets of lenses and
two sets of frames. Indeed, our latest research shows
that over a third (36%) of employers do follow this
route and provide glasses wearers with prescription
safety glasses. With eVouchers available designed
specifically for those requiring safety eyewear, the
provision of prescription safety glasses is a simple
and cost-effective option for businesses of all sizes.
Solutions by design
Safety eyewear is of course there specifically to
provide protection from impacts, however, it may
surprise some to discover how important aesthetics
can be too.
Our research shows that over two-thirds (67%) of
employers felt that a modern and appealing design
meant employees were more likely to wear the safety
eyewear, and over a third (35%) said they would
be much more likely to wear it. Of course, safety
eyewear can only ever protect the eyes when they are
The look of prescription safety glasses has
become much more design-orientated in recent
years. It no longer needs to be clunky and industriallooking,
in fact, some brands of prescription
safety glasses have very sporty looks and include
wraparound styles in a selection of different colours
and in male, female and unisex styles.
There is no requirement for the employer to
offer a company-funded eye test when providing
safety eye protection. If the employer is providing
prescription safety glasses, then there is clearly sense
in obtaining a new prescription first, to ensure the
glasses are the right prescription at the time of being
issued. There are, however, arguments for providing
eye tests to all employees requiring safety eyewear
and, indeed, to all employees in general.
An eye test with a qualified optician will of
course provide an assessment of the ability to see
clearly over different distances and under different
circumstances. Furthermore, it will also assess
the health of the eye itself, checking for issues
like glaucoma and cataracts. An eye examination
can actually help detect and monitor illnesses and
conditions relating to whole the body.
The small blood capillaries in the body can tell
a medical expert a great deal about the health of the
individual. The one place they are visible without
the use of invasive techniques is the back of the eye.
An optometrist can view these capillaries using
an ophthalmoscope, which is a simple torch-like
instrument. By checking whether any capillaries
have thickened, narrowed, or burst, they can
determine whether there have been changes in blood
pressure, which can be indicative of such conditions
as diabetes, raised cholesterol, cardiovascular
disease, thyroid problems, and multiple sclerosis, to
name just a few examples.
Symptoms of such conditions may not be
immediately obvious and regular eye tests can,
therefore, enable early detection and treatment of
these serious disorders. This can of course have a
positive impact for the business in terms of reduced
absenteeism, but also a very great impact on the
health and wellbeing of the employees.
Roofing, cladding and insulation work can be
unpredictable. Making small positive changes to
the working environment can have a great impact
on the morale of employees. Eye care is inexpensive
and available to companies of all sizes. With the
massive impact on the health, wellbeing and safety
of employees, it makes sense for all employers to
look into the options.