Safety eyewear on trend
14 September 2015
By Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.
The eyes are particularly vulnerable to injury, and eye protection is a commonplace requirement in a great variety of working environments. For many years, however, safety eyewear saw few changes. The basic requirements of PPE for the eyes is simply to provide a barrier to impact and regular goggles were often judged to deliver an adequate solution.
Probably one of the most significant changes in the field of eye protection is that it is now extremely rare for employees who need every-day glasses to be expected to wear over-goggles. While it is possible to wear safety goggles over everyday glasses, this is generally a poor solution not only due to the refraction caused by two sets of lenses but also because of the discomfort of wearing two pieces of eyewear.
Comfort and fit
The introduction of prescription safety eyewear was a big step in the comfort, protective fit and general wear-ability of eye protection. In the last few years, prescription eyewear itself has made several leaps forward in terms of comfort and fit. This is an important progression as a recent survey by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare revealed that a staggering 78% of employers worry that staff remove safety eyewear if it is not comfortable.
The changes that have improved the comfort and fit of safety eyewear relate to the glasses themselves and to the service received by customers. In 2012, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare introduced larger-sized frames. These were designed specifically to accommodate larger temple widths and to provide greater comfort for the wearer. In 2014, Specsavers added the first polycarbonate frame to its range. Previously, all of its prescription safety glasses had been made of metal. The polycarbonate frames have offered an alternative in style, comfort and durability, while still offering the same level of eye protection.
One of the more recent changes in the safety eyewear market has been the realisation of the importance of style. The function of safety eyewear will always be the overriding factor but employers are now beginning to realise that employees are more likely to wear their eye protection if they find it comfortable and like the way it looks.
The research showed that the vast majority of safety managers – a perhaps surprising 88% - attached importance to the aesthetics of safety eyewear. Linked to this, 91% said they believed that, when selecting a provider, it is important that they have a good range of eyewear from which to choose.
While it is still possible to order safety frames from a catalogue, the research showed that 87% of safety managers believe it is important to physically view and try on a range of safety glasses, in-store. They see the benefits of this as being the ability to try different styles for comfort and fit (73%), seeing the quality of the frames (55%), and feeling the weight (31%).
Professional fitting of safety eyewear is also high on the requirements from safety managers, with 82% stating the main benefit was ensuring a proper and safe fit around the temples, ears and across the nose.
‘Trend’ and ‘safety eyewear’ may not in the past have been two expressions often seen alongside each other but, there is no doubt that prescription eyewear is now more appealing, more wearable, comfortable and wide-ranging. There are now more choices of style, material and colour than ever before.
The dictionary definition of a ‘trend’ is a development or change in the way people are behaving. If the new designs and varieties of prescription safety glasses do – as is hoped and expected - result in a change in workplace behaviour and a trend for employees wearing and wanting to wear their eye protection, then it is certainly a change for the better.