Heavy winds began in February, so March is definitely coming in “like a lion,” to be sure!   This means that there will be “no burn bans” and many “red flag days”.  Please be sure to heed all warnings during this season.  To begin our March observances, today’s topics are: “Workplace Eyes Health and Safety Month”, as well as “Save Your Vision Month”.  You know how irritating a grain of sand can be when it gets into your eye, especially if you are wearing contacts!  Don’t take a chance on permanent damage to your eyes because you failed to wear the right eye safety protection. 

Because taking care of your eyes is so important, we want to emphasize the fact that three out of five workers who have experienced eye injuries in the workplace were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident, or were wearing the wrong kind.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 2,000 workers each day have job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment.  In addition, OSHA reports that thousands are blinded each year from work related injury that could have been prevented.  Read my lips: COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED!  OSHA states that 90% of eye injuries can be prevented through use of proper protective eyewear. 

Knowing exactly what kind of protective eyewear for each particular job is very important.  Here are some clues:

  • For particles, flying objects or dust protection, at least wear safety glasses with side shields.  Many persons have experienced eye injuries because they did not have side shields attached to their safety glasses.
  •  For those who work around chemicals, goggles are best suited.
  •  Persons who are exposed to hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, fiber optics,) require special purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets with special lens shields designed for the task.

Eye injuries most often occur in the manufacturing industry, or to those who are craft workers, mechanics, carpenters, painters, plumbers, and persons who run industrial equipment such as sanders and grinding machines.  The BLS says that in 70% of the accidents, flying particles, falling objects, or sparks striking the eye caused the injury.  Chemicals cause about one/fifth of eye injuries.  In many workers, an estimated three-fifths of articles causing damage to the eyes were smaller than the size of a pinhead. Those in landscaping businesses know how many particles can blow into their eyes when they are operating mowers and other equipment.  As we know, protecting oneself is vital.  Being responsible both at work and home will pay off.  It only takes a minute or two to don a pair of safety glasses or goggles before you start work or go out to work in the yard.

Suggestions to help companies fulfill their obligation to protect their employees from eye injury include:

  • Increase monitoring employees’ compliance in wearing eye protection.
  • Ensure that the safety glasses, goggles, etc. fit comfortably.
  • Furnish stylish safety glasses, (there are many great styles, not the old “Plain Jane” ones.  This will encourage compliance).
  • Tying compliance into each individual’s annual evaluation.
  • Ensure that there are eyewash stations in all areas.
  • Have first aid training programs in order for employees to be familiar with how to help someone with an eye injury or any other type of injury. 

In addition to eye safety issues, the health of our eyes is something we shouldn’t take for granted.  Everyone should have an annual eye examination.  If there is a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration, one should be seen annually by an ophthalmologist.  Experts in nutrition recommend that we have a diet rich in Vitamins C and E.  Eating leafy greens, egg yolks, fish, and other foods containing zinc are things that can contribute to good eye health.  Also, watching ones’ blood pressure is important, because if it is too high, it can hinder blood flow to the eyes.  Some eye professionals recommend eye vitamin supplements to certain patients.  Wearing sunglasses for UV protection is also important for our eye health.  Even children need to wear UV protective sunglasses, because experts say that damage to the eyes begins at a very young age.  

Have you ever turned off all the lights in your house and try to stumble to your bed?  I’m guilty of that, and I run into the wall half the time!  We think we know exactly where everything in our house is, but it’s easy to lose our bearings when we can’t see.  Imagine if you had to do that every day, all day long?  It will make you realize how thankful you are for the vision you were blessed with.  In many circumstances, such as accidents, it is a gift that cannot be replaced.  So why not “open your eyes,” and take the time to wear your protective eyewear, all the time you are working, and when you are doing your chores at home.