No one ever told him to wear safety glasses when he was using a nail gun. At 19, Sam Livingstone was working on a carpentry job – about to start an apprenticeship – when a piece of wire shot out of the gun, pierced his cornea, and blinded him in one eye.
Today, at 36, Sam is a corporate safety manager for RDM Enterprises. I first met him at the Bridging the Gap safety conference, and we talked about his prescription safety glasses. I gave him a call to find out more.
“My injury wasn’t a case of ‘I should have known better and used eye protection.’ I was a kid, and if someone had said, ‘You should be wearing eye protection with this tool,’ I would have been wearing it,” he said.
“If I’d had the proper training or hazard awareness, it never would have happened. Employers have to make sure their people know the hazards, have the proper protective gear, and most people – when they’re aware of the hazards – will wear the proper PPE.”
Inspired to work for safety
Sam was off work for 19 months after the injury.
“During that time, I decided to make a career change into safety and first aid. At the site I was injured at – in addition to not having the proper safety and training – they didn’t have proper first aid coverage, so my treatment post-accident was also very bad, which probably made the injury worse. It was because of the accident that I decided to get into health and safety and first aid – to prevent it from happening to anyone else.”
Sam says there is “no excuse” for failing to protect your eyes while using a nail gun – or any other tool that puts your eyes at risk. He chose Uvex because he found them comfortable and able to accommodate his high-level prescription (their Genesis model has an optional insert to hold prescription lenses behind the outer safety lenses) – and there are many other options on the market.
“If you go back 20 years, there wasn’t the option, but now there’s always a way to find good, comfortable, prescription safety glasses,” he said. “You’ve got to find the right one for you and the job you’re doing. You can never use the excuse ‘there isn’t anything out there.’ I can guarantee you there is.”
For more information on choosing the right eye protection, check out Safety eyewear for workers who wear glasses or contact lenses.