In case you hadn’t seen the news, July is Eye Injury Prevention Month. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 1,000 eye injuries occur in U.S. workplaces every single day, and each injury costs the economy more than $300,000 in lost production time, medical expenses and workers compensation.
In recognition of this month, here are some tips to maximize eye safety and minimize the effects of eye injury on your bottom line:
Provide workers with thorough training: Proper training should not only make workers aware of the hazards in the workplace and teach them how to properly wear and care for protective eyewear; workers should also be made aware of statistics that demonstrate the increased risk when not wearing proper protection. Workers should also be presented with a clear set of workplace guidelines for proper emergency response should an eye injury occur.
Conduct a regular walk-through and identify hazards: A number of different hazards can lead to serious eye injuries, including flying or falling objects and debris, unprotected work equipment or object, exposure to chemicals, ultraviolent light emitted from welding. Inspect your workplace regularly to identify those areas and tasks that pose as risks to workers.
Promote eyewear usage through strategically placed signage. Posters and signs can be very useful in reminding workers of the hazards they face and the importance of using protective eyewear, so place them everywhere, especially near mchinery and chemicals, but also in break rooms.
Select appropriate protective eyewear: All the posters and training in the world will fail to prevent eye injuries if workers aren’t wearing appropriate, comfortable protective eyewear. According to statistics reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average nearly 60% of workers who sustain eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the incident.
Choose eyewear that’s made specifically for the types of hazards workers will encounter on their jobs. One size fits all is usually not the best idea. There’s a likelihood that you’ll have to purchase various types of eyewear, including some prescription eyewear for those who need it. Make sure eyewear is comfortable and doesn’t impair their ability to work, since that’s a major reason many workers cite for choosing not to wear it. Just as importantly, get rid of any ineffective, uncomfortable or damaged eyewear, to keep them wearing it. According to OSHA, proper protective eyewear could prevent 90% of eye injuries, so this is important.
Make emergency eye treatment available: Eyewash stations should be placed so that workers can access them within 10 seconds of exposure to eye hazards, so that if an incident occurs, they can flush their eyes and/or relieve irritation immediately. Clean equipment as often as possible to maintain water and solution levels. It’s also a good idea to make eye drops, eye wash and gauze available in first aid kits that are easily accessible.