This is the second part of a quick look at the eye protection we offer here at Enviro, and today the focus will be on more advanced protection products. Certain jobs call for more than just simple safety glasses or goggles. Welding in particular is an activity that requires full face and eye protection. This most typically takes the form of a mask with a small window through which the worker sees what they’re doing.
Since welding gives off an insanely dangerous amount of light, it’s imperative that the window in the shield have some kind of built-in technology to lessen the glare. Improper protection can lead to a painfully inflamed cornea (known as “arc eye”). Like with hearing, welding protection can be either active or passive. Passive protection was standard for decades and is still common. An experienced welder can fare just fine by positioning the welder with the helmet up, then flipping it down with a head motion to begin the weld. This requires enough room to lift the helmet, and the constant lifting and dropping can obviously be tedious. The auto-darkening filter (ADF) has led the charge in making welding faster and more comfortable since its introduction to the market in 1981.
3M leads the pack with their ADF technology, which can be found in their Speedglas line of welding helmets. The diversity of function in the Speedglas helmets is impressive, with some offering a fresh air supply system for hot and strenuous work. 3M’s ADF reduces the amount of light coming into the lens within 0.1 milliseconds of it detecting brightness above the safety threshold. Once the welder is off, the filter immediately reverts to its previous state. The filters also feature preset shade levels for different metals and welding processes. The precision of the technology allows you to see exactly what you’re doing when it counts. Many accessories are also available, including battery chargers, breathing tubes, replacement shields, and protection plates to prevent damage to the mask. These products aren’t cheap, but every welder knows that you can’t do the job without your eyes, so it’s worth it to go the extra mile to protect them, however inconvenient that may seem.
Also available are low-tech face shields that either come with a headband or attach to a hard hat. These shields simply come down over the face and prevent contact with hazardous material. Whether it’s bodily fluid, chemicals, or just general debris, a cheap and convenient face shield is often enough to ward off whatever’s coming your way. Which one you buy depends on your needs. Do you need a bunch of high-quality in bulk? Paulson’s medical face shield (PAUIDC/F) is a good option. It was highly popular during the Ebola crisis of 2014, for obvious reasons. The Uvex bionic face shield (UVXS8500) is a self-contained shield that provides excellent coverage and comfort, with an easily replaceable lens. These are just two of the options, and you can explore the site for many more.
Obviously, face protection is closely related to head protection, which is what we’re going to look at next time. Watch this space, and stay safe.