Long-time Whistler construction worker develops new safety invention

Crowdfunding campaign aims to get device onto store shelves

In a typical construction zone, there are dozens of potential injury risks. Many can be avoided by wearing the proper equipment, like earmuffs and safety goggles, but for many workers, that’s sometimes easier said than done when equipment is misplaced or damaged.

Whistler resident Gregg Vollet hopes to reduce the frequency of workers performing potentially dangerous tasks without the necessary safety equipment with his invention, the Groggle. Four years after developing the idea, Vollet is turning to crowdfunding to help propel his product into the manufacturing stage.

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The Groggle is comprised of a hard case that houses a pair of safety glasses. The entire device clips onto the headband of any earmuffs with wire side bands, with the case resting on top of the wearer’s head. The glasses remain protected from damage in their case when not being used, but are easily flipped downward into the wearing position when they’re needed.

“I had maybe five pairs of safety glasses, but I couldn’t see out of any of them (because they were so scratched),” he said. “That’s where I came up with the cover.”

Vollet, who’s spent about 35 years working in Whistler’s construction industry, was first inspired to create the device while trimming a tree in his yard. He had just gotten set to start cutting when he reached for his safety goggles, but remembered he had left them inside.  Vollet decided the trip back wasn’t worth the hassle. “I started sawing away, and right away I hit a pine cone.  It got me directly in the eye,” he explained. “When I opened my eye, I could see, thankfully, but it could have gone the other way so easily.”

Vollet said his invention, which conveniently allows all protective eye and ear equipment to stay attached and be kept in one place, drastically minimizes the risk of misplacing or scratching the often-expensive safety glasses, all while providing greater comfort to its wearers.

“The combination (of earmuffs and safety glasses) is not new, but with the cover to keep them safe from damage and scratching, there’s nothing in the world like it that I’ve seen,” said Vollet.

He adds that the invention is also beneficial to employers: by taking away the inconvenient need to locate earmuffs and glasses multiple times a day, workers will be more productive, and less susceptible to injuries.

Vollet sees the Groggle being useful to trade and autoworkers, homeowners tackling a do-it-yourself project, the mining industry, as well as for hunters, shooters and military purposes. “I think it’s the future for personal protective safety,” he said.

But before this product can make its way into these hands, the Groggles need to be built.

Vollet’s Indiegogo campaign aims to raise $60,000 to help cover the manufacturing costs needed to bring his product, which will retail for about $40 each, to market.

He said that without a business background, the financial aspect of his invention has been a long and tough road. “It’s been a little more difficult than I anticipated,” he said.

“It’s like having your shoelaces tied together.”

“To have someone who can help me raise some funds to do this, that’s what I’m looking for, is somebody to help me along the way,” he added.  

To donate to the campaign, go to www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-groggle-always-there-safety-eye-wear#/

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