Safety glasses

Millennial desires are reshaping the safety eyewear market


Safety glasses have taken a turn in style. (Top to bottom: photos courtesy of Dentec, 3M, PIP Canada, Honeywell)

A new generation of workers are putting their trademark stamp on eye protection – style is now king.

Safety eyewear is on the way to fashion, thanks to the demands of millennials, says Mino Alkawam, product manager at Industrial Protective Products Canada (PIP) in Laval, Que.

“They want something trendy,” he says. “They don’t want to go put on the same glasses as their fathers. They want something flashy; they want something with colors; they want something beautiful.

Safety sunglasses are a new addition to PIP Canada’s production line – blue mirror and gold mirror options included. The Hummingbird lightweight line includes a smoked lens option with black temples and a DynaShield coating, a polyurethane-based solution that lasts much longer than the standard anti-fog solution.

And while millennials want relevant goggles, an aging workforce places additional demands on the industry, according to Wanda Sanchez-Miller, senior director of product marketing at Honeywell Safety Products in Smithfield, RI.

One size doesn’t fit all anymore, she says.

“The need to adapt to the variety of different face profiles has increased, and the need for something attractive, elegant… has become more and more of a need,” says Sanchez-Miller.

“Comfort is always really the key. Fitness is more important than ever because of the variety of facial profiles we have. You want all of these things, but you also want it in something you can wear to and from work.

Honeywell’s Avatar brand was launched in 2017 to address this need. Attractive and lightweight, an adjustable-angle ratchet temple and a metal-core temple allow users to properly tailor the glasses to their face, she says.

Avatar is also equipped with indirect ventilation and an anti-fog coating to avoid vapor issues.

What workers want

Comfort and functionality remain at the top of the list when it comes to eyewear, says Bev Borst, advanced safety specialist at 3M in London, Ont.

“Safety glasses need to be comfortable while providing optimal protection,” she says. “Workers are looking for safety glasses that they can wear comfortably for an entire shift. “

“Key features also include a premium anti-fog coating, adjustment of the nose pieces and temples of the glasses. Another key attribute that is routinely requested is sealed goggles to protect from flying debris. “

The cosmetics and appearance of safety glasses have improved dramatically over the past few years. The “bulky” look of the past has faded in favor of “high-end, fashionable sunglasses,” according to Claudio Dente, president of Dentec Safety Specialists in Newmarket, Ont.

All of the eye protection offered by Dentec offers both “extraordinary cosmetics” and “incredible comfort,” he says.

And while style is the trend of the day, the possibilities for comfort and facial diversity available through ratchet temples and lens tilt options are also significant, he says.

“Ultimately what you want is for the safety glass to stay in a high position at the top of the bridge of the nose,” Dente explains. “You don’t want him to slide down.”

“We make sure it’s good looking, comfortable, and a perfect fit,” he says. “We have a variety of styles which, if one doesn’t suit the plant population, we have something else they can introduce to appease the comfort, appearance and needs of everyone for one. particular application. “

The future is lined with foam, OTG

In 2019, demand for glasses lined with foam gaskets increased in an attempt to block airborne particles, Alkawam explains.

“It’s something new,” he says. “If you go back 10 years, no one has really bought something like this.”

PIP Canada’s response to the changing market has been the Volcano Plus – rimless safety glasses with removable foam gaskets.

“It shows that we have listened to customers,” says Alkawam. “We have seen how the trends evolve in the market. We have to adapt.

Many companies now require the use of foam goggles due to the high number of eye injury incidents, Dente explains.

Safety glasses with elastic straps that can be mounted on the temple arm, such as the DustDevil or the Sand Viper, ensure the foam is secure and the fit is tight, he says.

The aging workforce will leave its own mark on eye protection in the years to come, Sanchez-Miller says.

In the future, more and more workers will need prescription glasses, which are inadequate for eye protection, she says.

“When you wear prescription glasses in a factory environment, it doesn’t protect your eyes,” says Sanchez-Miller. “Prescription glasses are not necessarily safety glasses. “

To prepare for the expected increase in demand, Honeywell has launched an OTG (on the glass) version of the Avatar, including three adjustments on the nose bridge to ensure a perfect fit, she says.

The weight distribution design allows the Avatar OTG to fit comfortably over prescription glasses, while an anti-reflective coating reduces glare.

Common problems

Steaming and scratching issues will always be present with the work glasses, as the glasses are prone to being beaten – they fall to the ground or are left in toolboxes, Alkawam explains.

Manufacturers combat these issues by applying anti-fog and anti-scratch coats – the standard being one of each, he says.

More protective layers drive up the price of glasses and can make or break a sale, Alkawam says.

“It’s unfortunate that in Canada, with all the standards and regulations that we have, people are still considering buying safety products in general – and eyewear in particular – based on price. “

“The reality is you get what you pay for,” he says. “An economical product will not give you the same comfort and fit that will best suit the worker, in reference to a product that is double the price. “

A recent innovation from 3M is the Scotchgard anti-fog coating, Borst says.

The coating retains its effectiveness for at least 25 washes, allowing workers to wear these glasses for longer.

Face screens

Besides protective eyewear, face shields are also very effective in terms of eye protection, Dente explains.

Face Tech is Dentec’s latest offering for workers using a grinder. The new one-piece design fully protects the face from the crown to the chin and includes polycarbonate sidebars that a visor mounts into, he says.

The equipment protects against flying debris and the impact of heavy objects just like a hockey helmet, Dente explains.

“Our Face Tech faceshield works as an integral system, which means the visor mounted in the face shield, mounted in the suspension, acts as a shock absorber.”

Without a chin support, a heavy object could squeeze a flat visor onto the user’s face, with the potential for injury, he says.

The “unique curvature” of the chin support encapsulates the user’s neck and throat area, sealing completely against the collarbone as the user looks down to grind a specific object.

This Safety equipment function was published in the March / April 2020 issue of OSH Canada.