• Jono Johnson
    Hi guys,

    Just when I thought I was getting somewhere... Our business has a PPE policy which, amongst other things, states in part "Safety glasses MUST be worn on the workshop floor". Easy eh? Maybe not...

    What's been happening is that people who have no vision issues wear safety glasses as per the policy, yet staff who wear "normal" prescription glasses do not, and this - until now - has been okay. I recently queried this and as I got no satisfactory answers I ordered over-glasses for those staff that need them. Surprisingly there's been a bit of push back - I'm getting things like "Oh but if I stay on the walkway I don't need safety glasses", or but I can't read plans through them (complete BS of course).

    I have tried to explain that they are at risk as much as anyone else, if not moreso through having something travel through their normal lens and then into their eye, but to no real avail. I have as a last resort dropped back to straight quoting the policy but don't like doing this as it seems a bit H&S Nazi-is. I know I should be saying "If you feel we need to change then bring it to Management's attention" yet it's management that is the problem.

    The glasses thing is also being "cross-justified" (I'm trademarking that term BTW) with "Well, it's like visitors only having to wear enclosed footwear but we have to wear safety boots" - I mean, seriously?

    For info, anyone who is in the workshop (an engineering workshop) has a equal amount of risk of eye injury and I don't understand how people can presume that the walkways are like some sort of magic barrier yet I can't seem to get my point across. Any advice on how to prevail in this situation would be much appreciated.
  • Lisa Frost
    Have you looked into actual prescription safety glasses? As a wearer of prescription glasses, any over glasses do distort your vision, and I can only imagine if having to wear them for a long period of time would be awful. It does involve a potentially large outlay, but at the end of the day, someones eyesight is at risk. Come up with a policy that works for your company (company will pay costs up to say $500 every two years) and any extra is paid by the employee. Make contact with some companies that supply Prescription safety glasses and see if you can get a discounted rate if they get your business. Have a conversation with the staff, ask them how they would feel if they could no longer see their children, or wife, or drive - you might be surprised by the response if you can make it personal. Good luck, its a hard road to keep everyone happy.
  • Jo Prigmore
    You can contact SpecSavers for a company discount too, they offer some really good deals. I hate wearing over glasses, they make me feel seasick which creates a different risk!
  • Jono Johnson
    Thanks Lisa & Jo. The company does provide up to $250 for prescription safety glasses yet it seems individuals are not keen to use this option, for whatever reason, although I suspect personal cost is one. In the meantime, the issue still remains - the fact that management seem to think it's okay for some have to wear safety glasses and others not, which regardless of the comfort factor is unacceptable.
  • Michelle Dykstra
    Hi Alan,
    Sounds like you are seeing past the excuses and seeing the risk. Also sounds like your management team are not being real about the risks. By all means make your visitors also wear safety glasses - end to that discussion.
    Yes, those wearing prescription glasses which are not safety glasses are unprotected and perhaps at greater risk of ending up with glass in their eyes.
    I recently reviewed safety glasses in my workplace. The starting point is that PPE must be fit for purpose and fit the wearer. Start with an assessment as to what the worker does as there are roles which have different lens requirements.
    Prices seem to start at $299 plus the cost of an eye exam. An eye exam is recommended if they haven't had one in the last year or two and especially if their loss of sight is getting worse with age. For staff with simple lens requirements, try Bolle as they have some, cost-effective glasses. Another good option has been Ugly Fish Glide but this is a full-price option but more attractive.
    All the best effecting change in your workplace.
  • Cameron Gay
    I note with interest that you make no mention of the role of management in this exercise. If your managers are not able/prepared to work to get compliance, you are a voice crying in the wilderness. Where does your management group stand on the issue?
  • Andrew
    In our workshops we have mandatory* steel caps - mainly because workers are all over the place and can cut themselves or have heavy stuff fall on them virtually anywhere (despite our engineering controls and traffic management). Frankly though the risk does not apply across the whole area - but we all see the sense of the impracticality of swapping on / off boots in /out different areas. (Visitors need enclosed footwear - that's a function of distance away from risk)

    Can't think why we would make safety glasses mandatory across the whole area though. Safety glasses are only to be worn in very localised areas where there is a specific risk - like a bit of swarf coming off a drill press.

    Perhaps you have not clearly articulated the risk to your Managers. Or indeed is there any real realistic risk at all. I can't imagine how a failure in an engineering control would let something fly from a machine to a walkway at head height.

    If you have a genuine risk of something flying through the air and through a glass in a prescription lens of a person on a walkway I would have thought you would need more than safety glasses.

    * I'm not a big fan of "mandatory"
  • Jono Johnson
    Hi Andrew:
    I work in an engineering business owned, basically, by the staff. The managers are also directors & qualified engineers who have literally "come up through the ranks" and it is they who implemented the PPE requirements, therefore clear articulation to "the managers" is not an issue, they are well aware of the risk.

    As mentioned previously, a hazard/risk has been identified and controls put in place to minimise said risk, and for various reasons anyone who transits / works in the area must wear safety glasses - in some cases for the same reason your boots are mandatory i.e. practicality. However, in most cases the staff that do wear "normal" glasses have to get right in with the workers to observe what they're doing, in which case when they they do this they do not wear over glasses and are thus putting themselves at just as much risk - if not more - as the person doing the work.

    Also, I would definitely like to see what Worksafe would have to say during an investigation where it comes to light that the accident happened to a person who was wearing "normal" glasses" working right next to the worker who was wearing safety glasses.

    Re your comment 'I'm not a big fan of "Mandatory" ' - I'm interested to hear why? I mean, seat belts are mandatory, life jackets are mandatory, crash helmets are mandatory...
  • Jono Johnson
    Hi Cameron the issue is management are quite happy to maintain a double standard i.e. people who don't wear glasses must wear safety glasses, whereas people who do wear glasses do not have to wear over glasses.
  • Andrew
    Dealing with "mandatory": first" This is a sign of capitulation where all other controls have failed and you are left with a cop out PPE / Rule type outcome. That's bad enough when there is real risk. But no excuse for it where there isn't. The things you reference are govt mandatory things and they tend to be based on the lowest dumbest common denominator. And not entirely helpful = like it is mandatory not to use a cell phone in a car. But you can have your handbag dog wandering around free as you like, or you can puff on a ciggy if you so please. The issue isn't using a cell phone - its distraction.
    So "mandatory" should only be used in limited, specific and high risk areas. (Its also a term much loved by control freaks and lazy buggers)

    Next re your worksafe visitor. I would not expect the inspector to be so concerned about the wearing of the safety glasses. What he should be looking at is the risk and if you have appropriate controls. If that risk extends, say 2 meters to where another person stands then the Inspector would expect to see appropriate controls. What he would be looking for is something flying off WorkStation A, flying at head height to workstation B (or walkway) with such velocity to cause eye damage to person in Work Area B. If there is no such risk then no need for eyeglasses let alone safety glasses. But if you do have a risk of such a projectile - then you have a risk to soft facial tissue, bone and teeth. So what controls have you put in place for that.? None by the sound of it. Perhaps screening is a better solution.

    In our environment we have found, rarely, "projectiles" leave a machine at approx waist height, fly horizontally (not upwards) for a short period of time before gravity takes control and said object falls some 1m from the feet of the operator. So operator has to wear safety glasses (for the 1:1,000,000* chance something flies upwards) but people near by dont (we don't manage to 1:10,000,000 chance). We also figure a facial skin tear is remote and easily fixable with a plaster - but the same can't be said for eyes - hence no facial guard. We also know that glasses arent 100% ideal - something could fly vertically up behind the lens but at some point we have to take control of our imaginations.

    *Chance is simply an example number - not the real one!
  • Tania Curtin
    FYI everyone, there is an optometrist in Chch who kicks ass on pricing of prescription eyewear. He is simply passionate about eyes and is not out to make $$ off it like the Spec Savers of the world. If anyone is interested hit reply and I will see if I can dig out his details.
  • Lisa Frost
    HI Tania, I would appreciate that info if you have it available :)
  • Tania Curtin
    I found it: Anthony Galbraith at T&S Opticians is the man to talk to.
  • Wayne Nicholl
    sorry am I missing something here? I am trying to get our people to look at PPE as a last resort - yet I see no mention here of risk assessment, engineering controls, isolation etc If it is a walkway - surely that is designed to be a safe method of walking from one point to another? If there is a risk - why is it a walkway rather than a work area?
  • Andrew
    I live a life continually bewildered and perplexed. Seems I'm not the only one.
  • Michelle Dykstra
    I get the point being made of PPE being a final resort. However I recently suffered a FAI when someone in the factory shut a rubbish bin lid which then gave me a face-full of dust. This could have easily become a MTI as it took more than a day for my eyes to settle down. My point is - eyes are vulnerable and projectiles are not the only risk. I now make a point of always wearing eye protection in production areas. I have colleagues who have suffered similarly, and have since made the same decision for themselves. Businesses who make the wearing of eye protection mandatory may be taking the approach to take all reasonably practical steps to prevent injury.
Add a Comment

Welcome to the Safeguard forum!

If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.