Glasses are not as dangerous as they once were, according to new research from the University of Southern California.
The study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, looked at more than 4,000 workers at glass manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and found that the majority of workers who reported being injured in the workplace had no injuries caused by glass shards.
Glass shards, when thrown at their intended target, are the most commonly reported source of occupational injuries, according the researchers.
Glassworkers who were injured were most likely to suffer head injuries, and glassworkers who fell were more likely to sustain injuries to the neck.
“Glassworkers who reported injuries from glass shards were at increased risk for subsequent concussion, and even more so if they had sustained a concussion,” said lead author Dr. Michael DeCarlo, a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at USC.
“The number of workers reporting a concussion is higher among glassworkers than among non-glassworkers, and the odds of a worker suffering a concussion are higher among workers who had a concussion.”
Glassmakers also found that workers who used a large number of glass shards had a higher risk of head injury than those who did not.
“While this study does not show that glass workers should stop using glass, it does suggest that glassworkers should be more vigilant in their use of glass,” DeCarlon said.
“We should make sure to wear protective headgear, such as goggles, and that glassworker safety protocols are followed.”
In a separate study, DeCarlios team looked at injuries in the work environment caused by worker misidentifications of products made from glass.
Glass workers who were not aware of the product’s composition, or who mistook a glass product for another, were at higher risk for injuries.
“When workers misidentify the ingredients of products they manufacture, they can unintentionally cause serious injury to themselves and others,” De Carlo said.
Glassmakers have been trying to develop protective gear for workers for years.
DeCarlio’s group has worked with GlassSciences, the company that produces the product that Glasses, a $2,000 product, is made from.
GlassScience is now in the process of developing a protective glass glove, and DeCarlos team is also working with the glass industry to develop a new glass-based product.
In addition to Glasses products, De Carlos and his colleagues looked at occupational injuries in glassmakers’ manufacturing plants in the United States.
Glass manufacturers, like many industries, have experienced a decline in manufacturing jobs in recent years.
“These are a key part of the American economy and an important contributor to the economy,” De Carolos said.
The researchers also looked at workplace injuries related to a variety of workplace issues including drug use, and reported a higher rate of injuries related specifically to glass and other consumer products.
“We found that more than half of all workers who experienced injury during the study period had some type of substance use disorder at some point during the workday,” De Carroll said.