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Australians suffer around 50 000 eye injuries every year even though many of them were wearing eye protection at the time of their injury.
Safety eyewear is often incorrectly fitted, is not rated appropriately for the task or does not provide adequate protection. Subsequently, injuries often occur when foreign bodies enter under, over or around the sides of the safety eyewear, according to a 2008 report from Safe Work Australia (SWA).
These eye injuries can lead to permanent vision loss, contributing to depression and negatively affect work and social relationships, as described in a Comcare “Eye Health in the Workplace” guide.
The most dangerous injuries for the eyes are construction, mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, in which 60 per cent of all eye injuries in Australia occur. Chemical splashes, metal or plastic debris hitting the eye, tools accidentally striking the face, and improper use of equipment are the most common causes.
It is therefore critical you have the appropriate eye protection. That means knowing when to use medium, high or extra high impact rated eye protection and when to use safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields or a combination of these.
Choosing your impact rating
Eye protection impact ratings are determined by its ability to withstand an impact from a specifically-weighted ball without cracking, detaching or dislodging, breaking or coming into contact with the eye or the head.
Low Impact: Can withstand impact from an object moving at 12 metres per second.
Medium Impact: Can withstand impact from an object moving up to 45 metres per second.
High Impact: Can withstand impact from an object moving up to 120 metres per second.
Extra High Impact: Can withstand impact from an object moving up to 190 metres per second.