People who’ve attended metal shop or wood shop (or pretty much any industrial arts class) in high school are taught that safety glasses (sometimes called goggles) are important. The safety people at most businesses teach it as well. Most elementary schools mention it at least once. Why then do people insist on doing things which can damage their eyes and not wear safety glasses? It boggles the mind. Needless to say, drug store reading glasses are not enough. Safety reading glasses? Maybe.
A few years ago, one of my neighbors in the Philippines used to weld things for a living – gates, safety bars for windows, decorative fence tops, you name it. I always knew when he was welding things because my voltage regulator would click a lot – yes, the electricity in our neighborhood sucked to no end. I doubt it’s any better now.
One day, I walked past his house, where he welded this stuff on the side of the road for everyone to see, and noticed something I didn’t notice before. He wasn’t wearing any kind of eye protection – no safety glasses, no welding mask, nothing.
I waited until he took a break and then asked him why he wasn’t wearing any kind of eye protection. He said he couldn’t afford them and besides, he couldn’t see what he was doing clearly enough if he used them. I then asked him if he could afford to live without being able to see at all. What’s more important, a few pesos or his eyes? Somehow, I don’t think it sunk in.
After that, I started noticing it more often – people welding and doing the kind of work where safety glasses should be worn. And not only in Olongapo. I noticed it happening everywhere.
My father, before he was forced to retire, did a lot of welding over the course of his lifetime. Since he was farsighted, he thought he could always get by cheaply by using drug store reading glasses. It was hilarious to see him put two pairs on at the same time when he wanted to watch TV. He was at least 60-years old before he bought prescription eyeglasses for the first time.
He used those same reading glasses to weld with and replaced them when they started getting scarred badly. He switched to using a standard welding mask (or welding shield, if that’s what you want to call it) when he found out his eyes were getting scarred as well. Of course, he wore reading glasses under the mask (and I don’t know how he managed to make them fit).
These days, you can get prescription safety glasses, both as safety reading glasses and bifocal safety glasses, and they’re affordable. My wife wears bifocal safety glasses with side shields at work even though there isn’t any machinery in her area. She’s not crazy – she’s ready.
There really isn’t an excuse not to wear safety glasses around things that can damage the eyes. I only need regular safety glasses when I’m doing something dangerous – because I had lasik eye surgery before 2006 (and I really don’t remember when even though I think it was in 2004).
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