4 risks to look out for when working in cold conditions
Fogging lenses – Fogging is the number one challenge workers face when wearing safety eyewear and is especially a problem in cold environments. One dangerous consequence of fogged up lenses is that a worker may not be able to see properly and so miss their step, which can be fatal if, for example, they are working at height. On the other hand, obscured vision may lead workers to remove eyewear to wipe their lenses clear and put themselves at risk of serious injury.
Tip: Select eyewear with an anti-fog coating – along with top and bottom ventilation to enhance airflow – to significantly reduce fogging and provide anti-scratch performance to keep lenses clear and workers safe
Eye discomfort – Tears play a key role in lubricating the eye and protecting it by flushing out any dust and dirt. Yet, when the weather gets particularly cold and windy, the eyes may not be able to produce enough tears to protect themselves against rain, snow or other flying particles. As a result, they can dry out and become red, swollen and irritated, causing discomfort.
Tip: Use goggles with a wide, adjustable headband to provide a safe and comfortable fit to better protect your eyes when working outdoors for prolonged periods of time.
Snow blindness – Winter is not always the sunniest of seasons. Yet, exposure to bright sunlight reflected from snow or ice can result in photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness. Excessive exposure to such ultraviolet (UV) light can temporarily damage the cells on the eye surface, causing symptoms including swelling, pain and blurred vision.
Tip: Choose suitable lens tints, such as grey, to help reduce the risk of snow blindness.
Blurred vision – As mentioned earlier, tears are important, but working in cold environments without appropriate eye protection can result in excess tearing or red swollen eyes – a consequence of constricted blood vessels in the tissues around the eyes – which can result in blurred vision.
Tip: Wear goggles to guard against wind and flying particles and provide extra face coverage.