Report your concern online
A safety net when all else fails

41253 Use of safety goggles at night affecting vision

April 2011 in Network Rail and Suppliers

tagged Method of working Equipment Not Specified

Impaired vision due to wearing safety goggles at night concerns one reporter.

Due to a mandatory policy set by Carillion and Osborne, staff are expected to wear safety goggles at night, even when they are not carrying out maintenance work or handling dangerous equipment. Wearing safety goggles during the day poses no problem to staff. However, wearing them at night whilst walking around a work site is said to create a slip, trip or fall hazard. Lights from the on site machines and the lights around the work site reflect off the goggle lenses, creating a glare which affects staff ability to see through them. Goggles becoming scuffed during everyday usage also exacerbate the problem.

The reporter is aware of incidents of staff falling or tripping because of this issue. As a result, staff often take off their safety goggles at night whilst they are not being supervised.

Can Carillion, Osborne and Network Rail comment on:

  • The reasons for the mandatory policy of wearing safety goggles at all times?
  • Whether the mandatory policy can be relaxed to allow staff working at night to wear the safety glasses only at times when carrying out maintenance work or handling equipment?

Response from Osborne

Osborne has an eyewear policy that is mandatory and is not restricted to safety goggles. The policy is for the use of suitable eyewear. There are numerous types of safety glasses available through the Site Manager, for all Operatives, which are fit for purpose and the conditions that are being worked in. If wearing the safety goggles or glasses becomes a hazard, this can be risk assessed and possibly deemed unnecessary.

If goggles or glasses are becoming scuffed during everyday use we feel they are protecting the user's eyes. It is usual that scuffing occurs when not being worn by being left in an employee's bag or in a van.

The mandatory policy (from the Osborne board of Directors) arose when a subcontractor working for Osborne (not in the rail division) lost his sight whilst using a wrench, which slipped off a nut and hit him in the eye; the wearing of safety eyewear would have saved his sight.

Response from Carillion

The Carillion Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard was enhanced following a detailed study into the recorded number and types of accidents resulting in eye and hand injuries. Since its introduction the reported injury rates have been dramatically reduced.

The standard covers its minimum requirements and is applicable to all rail construction/ maintenance work sites. The purpose of the standard is to ensure that all employees and third parties use PPE to at least Carillion minimum standard. Although PPE should always be

a last resort for controlling hazards and risks to safety or health, its use is inevitably an integral part of almost every safe system of work.
Carillion shall provide free of charge, suitable PPE for its employees. Subcontractor and self-employed personnel are required to provide their own PPE.

Eye Protection: Safety spectacles or goggles to EN 166 Optical Class 1 must be worn at all times when on site. The standard of protection provided may need to be increased depending on the task and applicable risk assessment. The only exception to this mandatory requirement will be where the risk assessment indicates that use of the protective equipment would give rise to an increased risk. It is not anticipated that this will apply in anything other than highly exceptional circumstances. Carillion management are expected to enforce this mandatory policy at all times and will continue to monitor compliance on site.

Eye protection should be kept clean and scratch free. Employees should be provided with storage pouches for their eye protection. Any defects with safety glasses or visibility issues should be reported to the Site Supervisor immediately.
Carillion have worked very closely with its supplier and the eye wear manufacturer (UVEX) to develop a range of safety glasses suitable for wearing day or night that consistently perform in a variety of conditions. Carillion would be glad to discuss and advise third parties further.