Nearly 1 million Americans have already lost some degree of sight due to an eye injury.
Eye injuries in the workplace cost more than $924 million annually in workers'' compensation, and nearly $4 billion in wage and productivity losses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With more than 365,000 work-related eye injuries still occurring each year, Prevent Blindness Ohio offers 10 ways employers and employees can keep their eyes safe on the job and at home:
1.Assess the danger: Conduct a thorough analysis of workplace operations. Identify operations and areas that present eye hazards. In a home-improvement project, consider which household members will have access to tools and materials in the course of its completion.
2. Test for existing vision problems: which can contribute to accidents. Incorporate vision testing in routine physical examinations.
3. Protect eyes with eyewear designed for the specific operation or hazard: Protective eyewear must meet the current standards referenced by the OSH Act of 1970 and subsequent revisions. For the do-it-yourselfer, ask about appropriate protective eyewear at your local home repair or optical retailer.
4. Require 100 percent participation in safety programs: Use of eye protection at all times and in all locations in the work environment has been shown to prevent more injuries and is easier to enforce when it is applied consistently throughout the operation. Adults and children around a home project should adhere to similarly strict rules without exception.
5. Have eyewear fitted properly and comfortably: Workers won''t wear protection unless it fits properly and comfortably. Eye care professionals are trained to do this. The workplace should provide for eyewear maintenance and require each worker to be responsible for his/her own eyewear.
6. Prepare for emergencies: Accidents happen when least expected. Find where the eyewash stations are located in the workplace, especially where hazardous chemicals are used. Companies should train employees in basic first aid and identify those with more advanced first-aid training. At home, read emergency directions on all material labels.
7. Be educated on the need for protective eyewear: Adding eye safety topics to the regular employee education/training programs helps establish, maintain and reinforce the need for protective eyewear.
8. Support from the top: Management should set an example by wearing protective eyewear whenever and wherever required. In the home, parents will set examples for children to follow.
9. Review what was learned: Regularly review safety procedures with employees and family members. When necessary, revise accident prevention strategies.
10. Put prevention strategies in writing: Display a list of prevention strategies in areas where employees frequent. Include a copy of the policy as part of new employee orientation. Before starting a do-it-yourself project, talk through required safety measures with family and friends who will help you.
by Virginia Sutcliffe