An estimated 1,000 eye injuries occur every day in America's workplaces. That's a staggering number. What's even more staggering is the financial cost of those injuries – more than $300 million per year in lost work time, medical expenses, and workers' compensation. However, there's no way to put a price on all the pain and suffering eye injuries, or even the loss of eyesight can cause.
How can you reduce eye injuries? The first step is to identify what causes them. A 1980 survey conducted by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that almost 70% of eye injuries were the result of flying or falling objects, or sparks striking the eye. Another 20% of the injuries were caused by chemicals. The most startling finding of the survey was that nearly 60% of the injured workers were not wearing any eye protection at all.
Great improvements have been made since that survey was conducted. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has enacted standards requiring employers to provide proper eye protection to their workers. To be most effective, eyewear should be appropriate for the hazard, and should provide the proper fit. Ill-fitting eyewear can allow hazards to reach the eye and cause injuries. The best choice for most situations is goggles.
Training is key to preventing eye injuries. BLS reported that most workers were hurt doing their regular job. They didn't know eye protection was required. Be sure your workers know when, where, and what type of eye protection they need.
Eye protection only works if your employees wear it. Compliance is critical to their safety. Supplying your workers with eye protection they're comfortable with is the key to their compliance. Choose a style that offers the protection they need and the comfort and image they're looking for. Their safety and their sight depend on it.