2019, Volume 4, Issue 3 - Winter 2019

With Al Amarshi, Director of Eyesafe, with the Alberta Association of Optometrists

How does someone know if their safety eyewear is safety compliant?

Be careful! The term ‘impact resistant’ does not necessarily mean that the eyewear is compliant to your provincial safety standards. Look for the following:

  •  The manufacturer or supplier certification mark must be present on all approved safety frames, as well as the side shields and goggle piece. Look for the marking to ensure the frame and accessories meet the criteria for impact resistance. With Eyesafe, the frame will bear the label CSA Z94.3 (or ANSI Z87.1 if your provincial regulations permit ANSI compliant frames).
  • The manufacturer initials or stamp will be on the lenses, and they must meet CSA Z94.3 standards for impact resistance.
    To ensure that you always receive compliant safety eyewear, purchase from a reputable eye care provider or program.

Compared to regular eyewear, safety eyewear uses stronger materials that are generally shatter-proof and designed to prevent the lens from pushing into the eye. Safety eyewear also provides side protection. Your optometric clinic will choose the right lenses based on your prescription, budget, work hazards, and facial features.

What protection is available for various hazards?

Various hazards require special types of protection. For example:

  • Dust and fine particle debris can cause severe eye irritations. A seal or dust dam on the safety frame protects the wearer from these hazards. In most cases, the seal or dust dam will be removable and replaceable as these can wear out from facial oils.
  • Chemical hazards require that safety eyewear provide a tight close fit to the face to mitigate the potential of chemical splashes entering the eyes. In most cases, chemical resistant materials are used for these types of safety eyewear. Additional standards will also be required. With Eyesafe, specialty chemical eyewear meets the D3 splash and droplet rating.
  • Electrical environments pose a unique hazard of injury from electric arcs or flashes and flying objects from electric explosions – frames and lenses must be made to withstand high temperatures and have no metal content. Look for non-conductive safety eyewear specifically designed for these types of hazards.
  • Outdoor environments require UV protection and protection from glare and direct sunlight. The right coatings will help to reduce these hazards. Depending on your worksite, you may choose options such as a tint or a photochromatic lens (commonly known by a brand name, like Transitions).

How do I customize and promote an eye safety program that meets my organization’s needs?

When choosing a safety eyewear program, look for more than just savings. And, not all programs are created equal. Some programs offer easy website ordering; however, you need to ensure that your safety eyewear fits perfectly and finding a program that allows you to be physically fitted for the frame is critical. Also look for programs that can be customized to meet your organization’s specific policies on frames, lenses, and coatings.
Build your program around your specific work hazards. It’s not uncommon for organizations to have multiple policies, each specific to unique divisions or locations. Focus on the proper protection as the top priority rather than the cost. Ultimately, this strategy will pay you dividends through a reduction in injuries and lost time claims.

What if I have employees working in multiple locations or provinces? How do I manage compliance?

Look for a program that understands your local provincial legislation rather than a generalized national program. By doing so, you are guaranteed that your policy will meet specific provincial requirements for occupational vision care. Also look for a program that makes ordering easy for your employees – sites throughout the province for obtaining eyewear, easy access to eye exams, and a full range of frame and lens products that meet every hazard in your organization.

Do I need to be a large company to use a safety eyewear program?

Not at all. Most programs can assist your employees with obtaining safety eyewear whether you have two employees or two thousand. You will also find that for smaller organizations, your employees can visit any optometric clinic to get their safety eyewear.
Eyesafe is a prescription safety eyewear program that has been administered by the Alberta Association of Optometrists for more than 50 years. More information is available at http://www.eyesafe.ca.