Tips: Workplace Eye Safety

According to Prevent Blindness America, 90 percent of all eye injuries are preventable simply by wearing the proper eye protection. The organization has designated March as Workplace Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month to encourage workers in all industries to protect their eyes now to ensure healthy vision in the future.

"Our vision is something that so many people take for granted until it's damaged," said Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America. "We hope to encourage employers and employees to make sure that eye protection is on the 'to do' list every day."

Most eye injuries occur in production, transportation and service industries. OSHA requires employers to provide a safe work environment. In fact, the group states that eye and face protection must be provided whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that eye injuries total more than $300 million annually in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.

"Not only does practicing eye safety at work make good business sense, most importantly, it is integral in ensuring the health of employees, which is any company's most valuable asset," Garrett said.

Prevent Blindness America recommends the following tips to promote safety in the workplace:

  • Safety eyewear must have "ANSI Z87" clearly marked on all glasses or goggles and should be worn at all times whenever eye hazards are present.
  • Workers should know where the nearest eyewash station is at their job site and how to use it.
  • Employers should be notified immediately if safety hazards are discovered.
  • Employees should have regular eye exams to make sure their vision is adequate to do their jobs safely.
  • Those who already have reduced vision should ask their employers if prescription glasses or goggles can be provided.

Prevent Blindness America offers several free fact sheets and brochures to safety managers and consumers. Employers may also request information on the Wise Owl safety education program by calling 1-800-331-2020 or visiting the workplace section of http://www.preventblindness.org.

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