What is something you typically use every waking minute of every day that you also take for granted just about the same amount of time? Your eyes.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, there are currently “12.32 million manufacturing workers in the United States, accounting for 9 percent of the workforce. In addition, manufacturing supports an estimated 18.5 million jobs in the U.S. – about one in six private sector jobs.” This statistic is important because not only are these valued employees utilizing their eyes exhaustively with their careers, but they are the most highly at risk for damaged vision while working.
The importance of enforcing eye-wear protection in the workplace, specifically that of the manufacturing world, is unbelievably important. One of the more specific manufacturing employers who are especially in harms way for vision damage would be the field of welding. Eye injuries account for one-quarter of all welding injuries, making them by far the most common injury for welders, according to research from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety.
So, what is the risk?
Damage from ultraviolet light can occur extremely rapidly. The cornea and lens of the eye typically accept the brunt of the damage as ultraviolet radiation causes what is called an arc eye or arc flash. This is an extremely painful condition. While this does not always leave permanent damage, it causes extreme eye swelling, tearing and pain. You will find more serious cases of damaged vision with infrared and visual spectrum radiation. Some of these cases may include permanent retinal damage including cataracts, diminished visual acuity, and higher sensitivity to light and glare.
This can not only be physically painful, but can affect every aspect of your life – work and home.
At times, some of the side effects of not wearing proper eye protection in the welding field may not show up until later in life. A study in Denmark of 217 welders showed yellow spots on the white part of the eye in 57 percent of the welders and degeneration of the thin membrane over the eyeball in 24 percent. Researchers also found corneal scarring in about half of the subjects. Although radiation can wreak havoc on your vision, molten and cold metal particles striking the eye are still the most common sources of eye injuries.
Where do I go from here to ensure my workers and myself are getting the proper eye protection?
At Phillips Safety Products, the Phillips family has been manufacturing optical lenses for more than 75 years. These applications include anything from military use to sunglasses, as well as for the medical and industrial markets as well. With work and time, Phillips Safety Products has become not only a national leader, but a global leader in manufacturers of occupational safety glasses.
What type of welding eye protection should I consider?
According to welding history, “Auguste De Meritens, working in the Cabot Laboratory in France, used the heat of an arc for joining lead plates for storage batteries in the year 1881. But it was his pupil, a Russian, Nikolai N. Benardos, working in the French laboratory, who was granted a patent for welding. He, with a fellow Russian, Stanislaus Olszewski, secured a British patent in 1885 and an American patent in 1887.”
Since welding dates back to the 1800s, many types of eye protection have been utilized since! Obviously, the complexities and standards have risen since 1881 and you can now, with proper research and time spent, can feel safe about keeping your eyes protected in the welding world.
One style in particular for the welder that has been utilized for many years is the passive welding filters. Some passive welding filters and the benefits include the following:
- Passive welding filters are as common today as they were 50 years ago. They are a good option for welders as they have clearly proven their durability over the test of time.
- Passive welding filters typically tend to be a less expensive option when considering eye wear protection for a welding career.
- The worker is able to keep a hands-free approach when completing a task, as a quick flip of the neck will easily raise or lower the helmet into place so they can either begin or complete their project with little ease.
Another popular eye protection method to consider when welding is the auto-darkening filter. Instead of having the filter ready-made with a tinted glass window, this automatically adjusts to the brightness and darkness of the project. This at times can be beneficial and thus create a more efficient work day. However, you need to weigh the cons of such protection as well.
While auto-darkening filters are handy and seem to be a wonderful option, they typically cost around 5 times as much as a passive welding filter. With some options of the auto-darkening filter, they come equipped with a non-replaceable battery. These batteries can only be charged through a solar assist panel. Once these batteries stop working, your helmet stops working and you have to essentially go purchase another.
So, you’ll have to weigh the options for yourself. Do you purchase a more expensive option that comes with convenience, or do you go with the option that is not quite as handy, but has seemingly worked well in the welding world for many years and is a little more soft on the budget?
The choice is yours! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at Phillips Safety Products. The world of welding is a necessity to many aspects of life that we do not even recognize, but so are your eyes! Keep them safe.