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Do Forklift Operators Need Protective Eyewear?

batteryPersonal protective equipment (PPE) is a category that includes any type of clothing, accessories, or equipment that can help keep workers safe. It can be something they wear, such as a hard hat or work gloves, or something they carry such as a protective shield or fire suppression equipment.

When it comes to PPE, employers want to make sure workers have everything they need to stay safe in the workplace. But there's such a thing as too much protection.

When PPE gets in the way of the worker doing their job effectively and doesn't actually provide any additional safety benefit to the worker, it may be a case of too much of a good thing.

Forklifts and Eye Protection

So what about eyewear? Do forklift operators really need to wear goggles, safety glasses, or some other kind of eye-based PPE when operating their vehicles?

While the answer to that question depends on the specific circumstances faced by the individual driver for a particular job, it can generally be stated that most drivers would benefit from wearing eye gear if there is any sort of risk of eye injury on the job.

Docks, warehouses, construction sites, manufacturing facilities, and other places where forklifts are likely to be used tend to be rough and tumble places. In other words, there is often a lot of debris and junk flying around in the air.

So wearing safety goggles or other eye-based PPE can help protect drivers from an injury. They also can help make operators work more efficiently because they can keep working even in dusty or debris-filled areas.

Not All Eye Protection Is Created Equal

There are exceptions, however. Eye-based PPE that inhibits the operator's peripheral vision, for example, can actually do more harm than good. Glasses with large or opaque frames may impair the wearer's ability to see people and objects with minimal turning of their head or eye movement.

When drivers' can't see what is around them, they are at a higher risk of accident or injury to either themselves or somebody else. Goggles or safety glasses that don't let the operator see to the sides shouldn't be used in most workplaces.

PPE is only as effective as it applies to the task at hand. While wearing safety glasses or goggles while operating a forklift is generally a good idea, if they are the wrong kind of glasses or if they somehow give the operator less vision rather than more safety, they should not be worn.