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June 16, 2010

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Survey highlights need to focus on safety eyewear

There is a “worrying lack of understanding” among employers regarding safety eyewear that could put employees at risk and incur unnecessary costs.

€ᄄSo says Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, which has just revealed the results of comprehensive research it carried out into the safety eyewear knowledge, policies and choices of more than 100 companies.

The company is most concerned that 59 per cent of those questioned believe that wearing ordinary prescription glasses will provide protection from corrosive materials. Just over 30 per cent think that standard glasses protect from electric arcs, while 25 per cent said they provide protection from welding materials.

Specsavers points out that wearing ordinary prescription glasses will not provide protection against any of these risks and, if they are worn instead of the appropriate safety eyewear, it could put employees at serious risk.€ᄄ€ᄄ

The company’s research also examined how and why organisations specify safety eyewear. It found that the most likely stage for a company to agree to provision of safety eyewear is following a request from an employee – 46 per cent of respondents said this is the case for them, while 11 per cent believe they should provide safety eyewear following advice from a high-street optician.€ᄄ€ᄄ

Specsavers emphasises that specific situations can only be truly assessed by someone with access to the workplace, so the high-street optician will not, therefore, be the appropriate person to determine the risks and propose the correct safety eyewear precautions. This should be instigated following a full risk assessment, it adds.

The company also believes that employees are missing out on the full benefits of safety eyewear because their employers do not understand what is available. For example, the survey found that although 95 per cent of health and safety managers knew that safety glasses can include prescription lenses, 28 per cent did not know they can include varifocal lenses, 24 per cent that they can include bifocal lenses, and 12 per cent that they could include sunglare protection. €ᄄ€ᄄ

In terms of the decision to purchase, style and fit are the top criteria. A fifth of respondents do not class comfort as ‘very important’ when evaluating the use of safety frames, even though 83 per cent of health and safety managers believe that if safety frames are not comfortable they are unlikely to be worn.€ᄄ€ᄄ

According to Specsavers, the typical lifespan of safety glasses is two years but with 39 per cent of companies believing they last just a year, they may be incurring unnecessary costs by changing safety eyewear more regularly than required.€ᄄ€ᄄ

The company’s corporate account manager, Laura Butler, commented: “Our research reveals that a significant number of people responsible for health and safety within their company do not have a full enough understanding regarding safety eyewear. It is clear that greater knowledge is needed to protect employees from the risks but also to protect employers from legal action, potential fines and unnecessary expense.”

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is offering a free guide to safety eyewear to health and safety managers who need to understand the intricacies of selecting the correct safety eyewear for staff. To obtain a copy, call 0115 933 0800 or e-mail: [email protected]

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