NEWS | March 29, 2019

March is Workplace Eye Safety Awareness Month

By Maj. Dianne L. Williams, Optometrist 628th Medical Group Optometry Clinic

While we are nearing the end of March and Workplace Eye Safety Awareness Month, it’s never too late to take note of the importance of eye safety, especially in our work spaces.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 workplace eye injuries happen each year. If you think that’s a lot, Industrial Safety and Hygiene News claims this number is actually 300,000! That’s 800 eye injuries every day and many of those require missed work days. Aside from the loss of productivity, some of those injuries can result in permanent damage or even vision loss. 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 and chemicals are the most common causes of eye injuries.

But there is good news in this message. Implementing safe work practices and utilizing appropriate personal protective equipment can prevent more than 90 percent of serious eye injuries. You’ve heard it said that an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure. Well, a typical pair of safety glasses weighs less than one ounce.

Here are just a few tips to help protect your eyes while on the job:

1. Always wear the appropriate safety eyewear for the job site, even if you are just passing through a hazardous area.

2. Be sure to wear safety glasses or goggles with side shields to protect against flying objects, especially if you are working in an area with particles or dust.

3. Always wear safety goggles or face shields to protect against splashing when working with chemicals.

4. Make sure you use special-purpose safety goggles and helmets designed specifically for the task when working around hazardous radiation like welding, lasers or fiber optics.

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 always remember to wear your safety glasses. Isn’t your vision worth it?