A prescription safety eyewear program: good for you and your employees.
Have you thought about a prescription safety eyewear program for your workplace? Over 75% of adults wear some sort of vision correction, and 63% are eyeglasses wearers. Are they wearing safety glasses or goggles over their prescription eyewear? That can affect the fit, leaving a worker partially unprotected. Double coverage can also increase the likelihood of fogging.
Setting up a prescription safety eyewear program is easier that you think. We asked John Callahan of Halpern Eye Associates who’s set up scores of programs for companies in the Northeast for his advice.
Eyewear program vs. Eyewear vouchers
Prescription eyewear vouchers, explained. Some companies offer vouchers or reimbursement to pay for safety glasses employees buy on their own at a participating local eyecare professional or retailer.
The pros: A voucher program is fairly simple to institute. It puts employees in control to make their own choices on their own time. And since there’s usually a fixed amount, say $100 per voucher, it’s easy to predict the bottom line cost.
The considerations: All eyecare needs aren’t equal. Vouchers usually cover the cost of single-vision lenses, but a worker who needs bifocals or trifocals will have higher out-of-pocket expense for the more expensive lenses. They may choose to skip prescription safety eyewear and use goggles with their inherent fit issues. They may even skip eye exams. Both are safety issues.
What about a prescription eyewear program?
The pros: You can set up a tiered program that assures bifocal or trifocal wearers are able to afford proper safety eyewear, even though it may be more expensive than single-vision lenses. If your workforce is older, this can be particularly important. The program is easy to put in place with a proper partner. The provider is often willing to do the fitting and ordering on site from a pre-set selection of frames and lenses.
The considerations: Work with an experienced program professional to be sure you have a cost-effective, user friendly program. By careful selection of frames and lenses, you may be able to offer workers better options for the same cost as vouchers.
Planning success: tips from the experts.
- Check the safety ratings for lens and frames offered. Both should be ANSI approved and follow OSHA guidelines for the workplace environment. Consider wraparound designs or permanently attached sideguards.
- Control choices. These are glasses for work only. You need a variety of frames for a comfortable fit, but not a fashion show. Lens upgrades like tints or advanced materials don’t need to be part of the mix unless they’re a safety feature.
- Set a timeframe. At Halpern, they recommend replacement every two years. It triggers workers to take responsibility for proper eyewear care. It also prompts regular eye exams, a workplace safety advantage all its own.
- Consider payroll deduction. If out-of-pocket costs will be significant, make it easier for employees to pay for the safety glasses they need.
- Offer accessories to improve compliance and protect your investment. Eyeglass chains or cords and anti-fog help workers keep glasses on or nearby. Cases and lens cleaner extend their life.
How do I find a provider?
Ask your own eye doctor, local opticians or a lens-making lab in your area. The company that provides your non-prescription safety eyewear may have a division that does prescription programs or be able to make a recommendation.