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Eye Safety in the Workplace - Dr. John Bissell

3 out of 5 injured workers are not wearing eye protection at the time of an accident

October is eye injury prevention month. Could your job land you in the doctor’s office or the ER with an eye injury? With over 1,000 work-related eye injuries a day, it is fair to say that there are many professions in which workers can put their health and safety at risk.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of an accident. While you may believe it unnecessary to wear protective glasses at your job, consider the alternative of losing eye sight in one or both eyes.

Hands-on craft work and industrial equipment operators top the list for the most eye injuries. While potential eye hazards can be found in nearly every industry, it is reported that more than 40% of injuries studied have occurred among craft workers, machinists, carpenters and plumbers. Almost half of the injured workers were employed in manufacturing, and slightly more than 20% were in construction.

How can you protect yourself you may ask? While it is important to wear safety glasses, are you wearing the right type of safety glasses? Flat front safety glasses such as reading glasses will offer some protection, but they do not prevent debris or particles from entering the eye from the top, bottom or sides of your face where the glasses do not cover. Furthermore, flat front glasses are not as resistant to breaking if they come in contact with a hard object.

It is important to allow air to circulate between your eye and the glasses. However, you do not want to have so much space that would allow particles to enter the eye. When using your protective glasses, keep in mind that you also need to be able to see clearly. In too many cases, it is found that safety glasses that are to be worn to protect the eye, are so scratched or damaged that it prevents the worker from seeing clearly. While scratched safety glasses are protecting the eye being injured, the lack of clear vision may lead to other mistakes that could cause other workplace injuries.

Small business owners and independent contractors, you aren’t immune. How often do you work a “side job” without the proper eye protection? Whether you work for a large manufacturing company or are an independent business owner, you are subject to injury. For the small business owner, it could mean the loss of work, wages and career with no safety net to ensure your financial future.

To help prevent eye injuries and to make your work place safer and take steps to protect your eyesight, follow the OSHA rules regulations and guidelines. Knowledge is power, keep your safety record going strong through proper eye safety protection.

About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.