Safety Articles

Article # 4100

Through Rose Colored Glasses

Do you know someone who sees the world through rose-colored glasses? He or she may be a born optimist - or perhaps spends a great deal of time working at a computer.

The rose-colored glasses we usually associate with optimists offer a benefit for workers who spend most of their day at a computer screen. The pinkish tint of the lens allows them to see the screen better and actually helps to reduce eye strain. In addition, these rosy glasses are sometimes used by workers outdoors to help reduce the glare of the sun.

Color plays a significant role in protective eyewear. Yellow, blue, green, grey - each color has different properties that help protect workers eyes in specific applications.

For example, outdoor workers who need to see colors in their actual values find that a neutral grey lens protects against glare while allowing them to identify colors accurately.

Indoor lighting poses other challenges. Employees who wire control boxes for a commercial air conditioner manufacturer often wear protective eyewear with yellow lenses to enhance existing light.The yellow lenses reduce the diffused light to enhance object contrast.

"There are so many different colors of protective eyewear and so many different applications that it can get overwhelming, even for those of us who deal with this day-in and day-out," states Dan Howard, safety technician for the air conditioner manufacturer. "That's one area where Magid's single source supplier relationship really demonstrates value for our company."

Whereas this air conditioner manufacturer's wiring folks require the enhanced light yellow lenses provide, in other work areas, yellow lenses would be disadvantageous, or even harmful. For example, welders need the protection that green lenses provide against arc flash.

Color Your World
According to a leading manufacturer of protective eyewear, color is key in heightening vision for workers in iron and steel, glass production forging and other similar areas. Workers in these fields depend on colored lenses to filter out certain hues so they can assess furnace temperatures and see their work more clearly. A blue-green tint provides effective protection for workers who are in constant and direct exposure to ultra violet and infrared radiation. And cobalt blue lenses provide a visual means of determining temperatures and conditions of a melt.

Doug Jenner, safety director for a car manufacturer, stresses the importance of color in the eye protection of their welders. "Weld flash is something we're particularly concerned about with our welders," he states. "This burn of the eyes is caused by overexposure to the light rays from welding. It's important to wear the right equipment to prevent this condition. Not only is the burn uncomfortable for the worker, but it can result in 2 to 4 days lost work time. That's why we make sure our welders have the correct shade of green lenses in their welding hoods that properly deflect the light rays."

Welders at another leading car manufacturer are partial to changing colors - at least when it comes to the lenses in their welders hoods. According to Gary Pitella, safety and security supervisor, hoods with speedglas® - a light sensitive lens - are the favorite of welders at his facility, which assembles pick-up trucks.

"Our welders really like speedglas because it stays clear until they actually begin their welding work, and then it turns dark," adds Pitella. "That means they can keep their hoods on while doing their set up and aligning work. Then, when they strike the welding arc, the glass turns dark."

The welder's hoods with speedglas are one of the many products Pitella credits his Magid representative with suggesting as a solution to the plant's safety needs. "Our rep gets involved in our safety issues," says Pitella. "In addition to managing our PPE inventory, he acts as a safety resource to us. We depend on him to keep us current on product innovations that will work for us."

Going For The Gold
The color gold provided a safety solution for workers at a leading steel mill. The faceshields at this steel mill are put to extreme tests every day. In the past, when workers gunned the furnaces, the extreme heat deformed the faceshields. "It was not uncommon for our employees to go through 3 or 4 faceshields per individual per shift," says Bob Garrison, the mill's safety supervisor. "So we got a team together to come up with a better solution. Employees, safety managers, and representatives from Magid worked together to find a product that would stand up to the extreme temperatures of the furnaces."

The team recommended polycarbon faceshields with a pure gold coating that reflects the radiant heat away from the user's face. Does it stand up to the steel mill's test? Garrison attests, saying, "We have some employees who have been wearing the same shield for 2 years. The gold-coated shields provide good vision and allow workers to stay in the hot zones longer so they can complete their task, which enhances productivity."

Beyond Color: Seeing The Whole Picture
Of course color is only one component of effective eye and face protection. Protecting workers' faces from certain hazards on the job calls for a wide range of safety gear. Glasses, goggles, helmets, and faceshields come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and combinations to provide safety for a wide range of specific situations. Matching the right equipment to the right application is one of the expectations stipulated by OSHA. Suitable eye protection must be provided by employers where there is the potential for injury to the eyes or face from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, potentially dangerous light radiation, or a combination of these. OSHA also stipulates that the equipment should have filter lenses with the shade appropriate to prevent injury from the work being performed. All protective eye equipment should meet the standards of ANSI Z87.1989.

The world may look better through rose-colored glasses, and so do the safety programs of companies who know the ins and outs of the many protective eyewear color options.