With sponsorship support from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Prevent Blindness, the nation’s oldest volunteer organization that advocates for eye health and safety, has declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month.
By raising awareness and sharing free information throughout the month, their goal is to provide employers and workers with valuable resources that teach the importance of proper eye care and protection while on the job.
Experts project 158 million people will be employed in the United States in 2020. Each day, 2,000 of those workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require eye medical treatment. Accounting for lost productivity, medical expenses, worker compensation, legal fees, fines, and higher insurance rates, eye injuries cost more than $900 million each year.
For more information on Workplace Eye Wellness Month, visit PreventBlindness.org/eye-safety-work
Whether you’re a mechanic or a computer engineer, eye injuries are part of the job. Here are some of the most common causes of workplace eye injuries.
- Flying objects (bits of metal, glass)
- Harmful radiation
- Blue light exposure
Luckily, 90% of all work-related eye injuries can be avoided or reduced in severity by taking proper precautions. Prevent Blindness recommends taking 10 steps to help prevent eye injuries on the job:
Look carefully at plant operations. Inspect all work areas, access routes, and equipment for hazards to eyes. Study eye accident and injury reports. Identify operations and areas that present eye hazards.
Uncorrected vision problems can cause accidents. Provide vision testing during routine employee physical exams.
Select protective eyewear that is designed for the specific duty or hazard. Protective eyewear must meet the current standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and later revisions.
Create a 100% mandatory program for eye protection in all operation areas of your plant. A broad program prevents more injuries and is easier to enforce than one that limits eye protection to certain departments, areas, or jobs.
Workers need protective eyewear that fits well and is comfortable. Have eyewear fitted by an eye care professional or someone trained to do this. Provide repairs for eyewear and require each worker to be in charge of his or her own gear.
Plan for Emergency
Set up first-aid procedures for eye injuries. Have eyewash stations that are easy to get to, especially where chemicals are used. Train workers in basic first-aid and identify those with more advanced training.
Conduct ongoing educational programs to create, keep up, and highlight the need for protective eyewear. Add eye safety to your regular employee training programs and to new employee orientation.
Management support is key to having a successful eye safety program. Management can show their support for the program by wearing protective eyewear whenever and wherever needed.
Regularly review and update your accident prevention policies. Your goal should be NO eye injuries or accidents!
Put it in writing
Once your safety program is created, put it in writing. Display a copy of the policy in work and employee gathering areas. Include a review of the policy in new employee orientation.
Workplace Eye Wellness Month is the perfect time for employers to review or establish eye safety guidelines and discuss eye health with employees.
If you’re looking for more information on eye health and safety, including resources you can share in the workplace, Prevent Blindness has created an extensive library of fact sheets that are free to download and print.