WORKPLACE EYE WELLNESS MONTH
March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for Texas, 20,690 eye injuries resulting in lost workdays occurred in American workplaces in 2011. The category of struck by an object accounted for 42% of the total work-related eye injuries requiring days away from work; while 22% were due to an exposure to a harmful substance. Twenty percent of the total cases were caused by parts and materials and 15% were caused by chemicals or chemical products.
There are several practices to help prevent an eye injury in the workplace.
1. Assess: 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.
2. Test: Uncorrected vision problems can cause accidents. Provide vision testing during routine employee physical exams.
3. Protect: 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.
4. Fit: Employees 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 employee to be in charge of his or her own gear.
5. Participate: 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.
6. Plan for an Emergency: Set up first-aid procedures for eye injuries. Have eyewash stations that are easy to get to, especially where chemicals are used. Train employees in basic first-aid and identify those with more advanced training.
7. Educate: 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.
8. Support: 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.
9. Review: Regularly review and update accident prevention policies. The goal should be NO eye injuries or accidents!
10. Put it in Writing: Once a 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.
The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (TDI-DWC) offers the following free eye safety publications:
- Eye Injury Prevention Fact Sheet;
- Eye Protection Safety Training Program;
- Eyewash Safety Workplace Program; and
- Personal Protective Equipment Workplace Program.
These publications, available in both English and Spanish, can be downloaded from the agency website.
The TDI-DWC features a free occupational safety and health DVD loan library. Call 512-804-4620 for more information or visit the TDI website.
DVDs on Eye Safety can be found under the following headings:
- Eye Safety
- Personal Protective Equipment
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers a Workplace Safety & Health Topics webpage on Eye Safety on its website.
For more information contact:
Last updated: 04/11/2013