Workplace Eye Health and Safety

By Eva A. Allen | Posted: August 16, 2017

The Facts

2,000: Average number of employees who sustain job-related eye injuries each working day.

10% – 20%: Percentage of workplace eye injuries that will be disabling due to temporary or permanent vision loss.

Ocular Trauma, Loss of Vision and Blindness: The workplace is the leading cause of these types of injuries.

90%: Percentage of workplace eye injuries that could have been prevented with appropriate protective eyewear.

Inadequate Education: The #1 reason workers report they did not know they needed to wear eye protection or that they were wearing inappropriate eyewear for the job.

Eye Fatigue, Difficulty Focusing and Discomfort: The 3 most common complaints from using computers in the workplace.

20/20/20: When working at a computer, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds to help reduce eye strain.

The Details

March is Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month. How can we improve the health and safety of our employees’ eyes?

The first step to keeping eyes healthy and preventing injuries is using eye protection whenever there is a chance that machines or activities could present a hazard from flying objects, chemical splashes, radiation or other dangers. Employees must use safety eyewear marked with “ANSI Z-87” on the frames and an imprint from the lab etched into the lenses. An employer or OSHA inspector can use these measures to assure the eyewear is impact resistant and meets industry safety standards. All employees must be trained on when and how to use safety eyewear. They must also know whether they should use safety glasses or safety goggles. The employees should not have an option – wearing safety eyewear must be mandated!

Next, if employees are having eye discomfort, they should see an eye care professional for a complete eye examination. They may need an updated prescription. In some cases, employees may have to wear specific eyewear when working at a computer. Follow the 20/20/20 rule and be sure to advise your employees to take breaks when working at a computer (every 20 minutes take a 20 second break to look at an object 20 feet away). Other helpful tips for employees who work at computers frequently are: enlarge text, adjust monitor brightness, adjust monitor contrast, adjust the position of your monitor to a level lower than your direct eyesight, and (although it sounds intuitive) don’t forget to blink.

Taking these simple precautions will keep eyes healthy and prevent injuries. So, let’s all brush up on our Personal Protective Equipment requirements and save some eyes. It starts with awareness and education. It starts with you!

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