March Workplace Eye Protection Awareness Month

March Is Workplace Eye Safety Month

More than 2,000 eye injuries occur on the job site every day and about one in 10 of them require missed work days to recover. Of the total amount of work-related eye injuries, 10 to 20 percent will cause temporary or permanent vision loss in the affected employees.

And, while many people think that eye injuries primarily occur in manufacturing, construction or trade jobs, nearly 40 percent of work-related eye injuries occur in offices, healthcare facilities, laboratories and similar environments.

Flying objects, tools, particles, chemicals and harmful radiation, are the causes of most eye injuries. And in many cases, implementing safe work practices and utilizing appropriate personal protective equipment could prevent them entirely.

Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of these eye injuries. Simply using the proper eye protection on the job could prevent thousands of eye injuries each year.

Two major reasons workers experience eye injuries on the job are because they were:

  1. Not wearing eye protection, or
  2. Wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.

A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. These workers most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation.

What are the potential eye hazards at work?

Potential eye hazards against which protection is needed in the workplace are:

  • Projectiles (dust, concrete, metal, wood and other particles)
  • Chemicals (splashes and fumes)
  • Radiation (especially visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, and lasers)
  • Bloodborne pathogens (hepatitis or HIV) from blood and body fluids

Some working conditions include multiple eye hazards. The proper eye protection takes all hazards into account.

The best methods of eye protection differ for each type of hazard. The protector must be matched to the potential hazard. High risk occupations for eye injuries include:

  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • mining
  • carpentry
  • auto repair
  • electrical work
  • plumbing
  • welding
  • maintenance

The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace:

  • If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields)
  • If you are working with chemicals, you must wear goggles
  • If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task

Additionally, with so many people using computers at work and at home, complaints of eye strain, difficulty focusing and discomfort have become a common place in doctors offices.

One of the main reasons is although offices have marched into the age of technology, not much else has. People are still using the same lighting and desk configurations they had when using typewriters.

To mark March as Workplace Eye Safety Month, the CDC/NIOSH and American Academy of Ophthalmology has put together some tips to help us alleviate some of the eye problems modern technology has given birth to. They are:

  • Has it been a year or two since your last exam get an eye exam by your ophthalmologist, who can rule out the possibility of any eye disease. If you wear glasses or contact lenses you could simply need glasses when working at a computer, reading, or your prescription might need updating.

  • Screen distance you should sit approximately 20 inches from the computer monitor, a little further than you would for reading distance, with the top of the screen at 2 plus or minus eye level.
  • Equipment if possible chooses a monitor that has both contrast and brightness controls.
  • Reference materials keep reference materials on a document holder so you dont have to keep looking back and forth, frequently refocusing your eyes and turning your neck and head.
  • Lighting modify your lighting to eliminate as much reflections or glare as possible. If possible arrange your work station away from window glare.
  • Rest breaks take periodic rest breaks and try to blink often to keep your eyes from drying out. Use the 20-20-20 method. Every 20 minutes of typing stop and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Allowing your eyes to reduce the constant focus strain. Additionally, force yourself to yawn this can help moisturize your eyes.

Another thing to remember is that the forced-air heating systems can increase problems with dry eyes during the winter months. The usual symptoms of dry eye are stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, a feeling that theres something in the eye, excessive tearing or difficulty wearing contact lenses.

Over-the-counter eye drops, called artificial tears or saline drops, usually help, but if dry eye persists, see your eye doctor for an evaluation.

Why is eye safety at work important?

Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at home or work each day. About 1 in 10 injuries require one or more missed workdays to recover. Of the total amount of work-related injuries, 10-20 % will cause temporary or permanent vision loss.

Experts believe that the right eye protection could lessen the severity or even prevented 90% of eye injuries in accidents.

What are the common causes of eye injuries?

Common causes for eye injuries are:

  • Flying objects (bits of metal, wood or glass)
  • Tools
  • Particles
  • Chemicals
  • Harmful radiation
  • Any combination of these or other hazards

What is my best defense against an eye injury?

There are three things you can do to help prevent an eye injury

  • Know the eye safety dangers at work.
  • Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens, adjust lighting to reduce glare or other engineering controls.
  • Use proper eye protection.

The protective lens above saved the employees eyes from certain blindness!

When should I protect my eyes at work?

You should wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear.

What type of safety eyewear is available to me?

Safety eyewear protection includes:

  • Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses
  • Goggles
  • Face shields
  • Welding helmets
  • Full-face respirators

What type of safety eye protection should I wear?

The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields). If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.

What is the difference between glass, plastic, and polycarbonate safety lenses?

All three types of safety lenses meet or exceed the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) requirements for protecting your eyes.

Glass lenses

  • Are not easily scratched
  • Can be used around harsh chemicals
  • Can be made in your corrective prescription
  • Are sometimes heavy and uncomfortable

Plastic lenses

  • Are lighter weight
  • Protect against welding splatter
  • Are not likely to fog
  • Are not as scratch-resistant as glass

Polycarbonate lenses

  • Are lightweight
  • Protect against welding splatter
  • Are not likely to fog
  • Are stronger than glass and plastic
  • Are more impact resistant than glass or plastic
  • Are not as scratch resistant as glass
  • Are more expensive than Glass or Plastic lens

So remember – something as simple as putting on a pair of safety glasses can prevent serious eye injuries. These injuries are painful, cause many lost workdays and sometimes lead to permanent vision loss. So during the month of March, and year round, remember to wear your safety glasses!

Does safety eye protection work?

Yes, eye protection does work. The Wise Owl Program, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America, has recognized more than 100,000 people in 2012 who avoided losing their sight in a workplace accident because they were wearing proper eye protection.

For more information on eye safety, email at info, visit the website at or call 1-800-331-2020

Information provided by CDC/NIOSH, American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Wise Owl program for Prevention of Blindness.

Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

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Eye Safety isn’t just about Safety Glasses

There is no doubt that safety glasses protect your eyes from eye injuries. Whether you are using a weed wacker or chopping wood at home or using power tools at work, you should always be wearing safety glasses.

Eye safety, however, doesn’t stop there. You eyes need more than just protection against flying debris. Here are a couple of other things that you need to do to protect your eyes.

1. Proper diet – Foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E, Beta-carotene, zinc as well as high in omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA all help promote eye health. Additionally, if you are diabetic, you need to keep to a low-GI (low-glycemic) diet.

2. Smoking – Smoking has, of course, been linked to a number of health problems. Among them is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Smokers also have a higher risk of cataracts.

3. Family History – Certain eye related problems are genetic in nature. Knowing and understanding your family medical history can help you make educated choices about your eye health.

4. Yearly Exams – Nothing is more important for your eyes than catching any potential problem before they become serious. Additionally, weak or inaccurate prescriptions can cause eye strain. Make sure you schedule an annual eye exam to properly monitor your eye health.

5. Throw your contacts out – You may be tempted to keep wearing those contacts past the point when you are supposed to put a new pair in but don’t. Whether you can see it or not, your contacts may be building up a film on them that can cause the lens not to breathe as well. It may also collect microscopic particles that can, over time, damage your eye. Replace the lenses when you are supposed to.

Why wear eye protection

It seems anymore that we are told to wear eye protection for almost any and all jobs. Nothing wrong with that. I would rather be wearing eye protection even if the risk of eye injury is infinitesimaly small than not be wearing it when I need it and go through the rest of my life either blind or with only one good eye.

That being said, all eye wear is not created equal and in order to be properly protected, you need to identify the hazard or risk an eye injury even if you are wearing eye protection.

OSHA identifies five hazards when it comes to possible eye injury:

1. Impact – This is probably the first one that people can identify. There are a myriad of safety glasses out there in all sizes, styles, shades and shape that are designed to protect your eyes from flying objects. Additionally, depending on the work being done, faceshields or goggles might be a better choice (if, for example, you need to protect the whole face rather than just the eyes, a faceshield would be a better option).

2. Dust – Safety glasses have been found to be extremely ineffective in protecting against eye injuries where there is dust in the air. The dust particles simply flow under, around or over the lens and find their way into your eye. Goggles are the obvious choice in this instance.

3. Chemicals – If the hazard is a chemical rather than a flying piece of debris, safety glasses are not going to be adequate. A chemical splash might result in the liquid dripping down into the eyes in spite of the fact that the glasses protected against immediate splash contact. Chemical splash goggles and/or a faceshield would be the best manner of protection.

4. Heat – If the hazard is extreme temperatures, a heat shield, welding goggle or welding helmet is needed. If you are using a heat shield in instances of molten metal or chemicals that may splash, you will need to double up with a heat goggle under the heat shield.
Electrical arc flash is a good example of this type of application. Arc flash kits (like this one from National Safety apparel) come complete with a high heat faceshield because of the extreme temperatures generate by an arc flash.

5. Optical Radiation – Even the briefest of contacts with optical radiation or lasers can permanently damage the eye. In this instance, you will need special “laser eyewear“. Here again, not all laser eyewear is equal in protection. You will need to identify the filter type, the laser type, the wavelength, the lens color and the VLT% in order to get the correct protection factor.

Note: if you are wearing a faceshield that can be pivoted up, as most faceshields do, OSHA requires that you wear safety glasses or googles under the faceshiel. The idea being that the hazard might occur while the faceshield is in the “up” position.

Women Must Take Steps to Avoid Vision Loss

According to a new study publishes on Prevent Blindness America’s website, women are much more susceptible to vision loss, including blindness than are men. This is mainly attributed to longevity (women generally have a longer life expectancy than men) but also to hormonal factors. In fact, studies done by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) and the National Eye Institute (NEI) show that “of the more than 3.6 million Americans age 40 and older who suffer from visual impairment, including blindness, 2.3 million are women.”

Prevent Blindness America provides tips for women to keep their eyes healthy:

Get an Eye Exam– All women should make regular eye exams part of their health routine. PBA recommends everyone receive a comprehensive eye exam by age 40, if not earlier, and follow up care as recommended by an eye care professional.

Know Your Family History– Genetics plays a key role in eye disease. Research your familys health history and notify your eye care professional of any eye diseases that run in the family.

Eat Healthy– A diet rich in beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids can also help guard against vision loss from eye disease.

Take Supplements– Antioxidants have been shown to actually reduce the progression of some eye illnesses, including AMD. Vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin C and zinc are good sources to help maintain eye health. Consult your physician before taking any vitamins or supplements.

Quit Smoking– Smoking, even second-hand smoke, increases the risk of eye disease.

Wear UV Eye Protection- When venturing outdoors,PBA recommends wearing brimmed hats in conjunction with UV-rated sunglasses (labeled: absorbs 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays). UV rays are extremely dangerous to the eyes and have been linked to the development of cataracts and AMD later in life.

For more information on womens eye health, including fact sheets on eye diseases, pregnancy and vision, and the safe use of cosmetics, call 1-800-331-2020.

Don’t just wear safety glasses at work

Most of us know to wear safety glasses at work. In many cases it’s mandatory. We get to work and donning the PPE is part of the daily routine.

Here’s a tip though… Of the 2.5 million eye injuries that happen each year in the US, 50% occur at home.

The fact of the matter is that the reasons why safety eyewear makes sense at work also applies at home. So why aren’t we wearing eyewear when we are working around the house?

  1. We don’t have safety glasses at home. We wear them at work because the company provides them. Chances are however, at home we just keep forgetting to buy a pair so we don’t have them when we need them. Solution: Go online now and purchase a pair! Do it now and they’ll be there next time you need them. Wait and you’ll probably forget and they won’t be there next time you start up that chain saw or weed wacker. Better yet, purchase more than one pair (See next tip)
  2. The glasses aren’t readily available. You know that you’ve got a pair of safety glasses somewhere but right at the time when you’re about to start up the table saw you can’t for the life of you remember where you left them. Rather than stop what you’re doing to go look for them you tell yourself that it’ll just take a second and that you’ll be careful (like that’s going to make a difference when that piece of debris comes flying at your eye at 250 mph!) Solution: Purchase several pair of safety glasses. Use them and leave them where you work so they’ll be where you need them when you need them. If you only have one pair, you’ll use it while gardening and leave it with the gardening stuff so that, when you start up the table saw the glasses won’t be around. Get several pair and leave a pair with the gardening stuff, one in the tool shop, etc… If they are there, you’ll more than likely put them on.
  3. They are comfortable – We have a saying in the safety industry… “the best PPE is the PPE that workers will wear!” If it isn’t comfortable, they aren’t going to want to wear it. Solution: The only reason why safety glasses might not be comfortable is because you haven’t found the right pair. Safety glasses don’t need to be and shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Try on several pair and find the right ones (the right ones don’t pinch or put too much pressure on the temples. Pay attention to the eyelashes. They shouldn’t brush against the lens).
  4. They fog up – Many eye injuries occur while the worker’s glasses are on the top of his or her head because the glasses were fogging up. Solution: Pay a little more for anti-fog protective coating.

Don’t be a statistic! Don’t be safe at work and stupid at home. Wear safety glasses at home whenever you are using power tools or doing work that might potentially result in an eye injury.

Edge Safety Eyewear Sheds Light on Lens Tints

What’s the difference between a yellow lens and an amber lens? Which should I choose for which application? What about the difference between a regular yellow lens and a polarized yellow?

I’d love to tell you that because we sell eyewear every day we’ve got all this memorized but I can’t because we haven’t. I can, however, do you one better… instead of calling us for the information, have a look at the Light Transmission section of the Edge Safety Eyewear website.

Here’s a screen capture of what you’ll find:

This particular screen capture is for the clear lens. Notice that it gives you the amount of each color that reaches your eye as well as the total amount of light that gets through. Below you’re also given the best application for that particular lens tint. If you were on their website, you could click on the next color which is yellow and you’d get the following information:

The first thing that you notice is that the biggest difference is on the bottom end of the light spectrum with violet going from 57.36% in the clear version down to 14.04% in the yellow tint.

I’ll let you click on the others and have a look for yourself. A very cool website when it comes to learning about safety glasses.

Oh, and while you’re there, have a look at the other tabs under the “Light Management” section. You’ll find a lot of other cool stuff that’s pretty high tech.

Who knew that learning about safety eyewear could be so much fun?

Ergonomic Tips of the Week # 31

Eye Exercises. Take your pen and hold it at arm’s length. Focus on the pencil with your eyes. Then slowly move the pen in towards the eyes until the pen gets blurry. Close your eyes and take a deep breath (relax). Move the pen back to arm’s length and open your eyes. Repeat 5 times.

Note: For a good article on eye strain, check out the EHS Today website “Eye Strain No Longer Limited to Hours of Computer Viewing

The ergonomic tip of the day is provided by Ken Oswald at