March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Feb 27, 2019

Did you know March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month? Prevent Blindness, the oldest volunteer eye health and safety group in the US, developed the month as a way to educate workers about how to protect their vision while on the job. Each day over 2,000 Americans suffer an eye injury but Prevent Blindness estimates that proper eyewear could reduce workplace injuries by up to 90%.

Prevent Eye Injuries at Work
It is important to be aware of the eye safety dangers at your place of employment and to take action to eliminate hazards in your work environment. Proper eye protection is a necessity as It only takes a tiny piece of metal or dust or a splash of chemical to cause significant or possibly permanent damage to your eye.

OSHA standard 1910.133 requires that employers ensure that employees are using appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to a variety of eye and face hazards including flying particles, liquid chemicals or acids, chemical gases, or dangerous light radiation.

Machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls can be used to eliminate eye hazards before starting work. Proper eye protection including non-prescription and prescription safety glasses, googles, welding helmets or full-face respirators should be worn whenever there are hazards that could lead to a potential eye or face injury.

Providing proper training to inform employees about when eyewear is required can help keep your employees safe and reduce the number of eye injuries at your facility.

Emergency Eye Wash Stations
Emergency eye wash stations are an integral part of your facility’s safety plan. Eye wash stations should be located within 25 feet of the entrance of your building and should be on the same floor as the potential hazard. They should also be located in an area where you do not have to use steps or go through a door to access the eye wash station.

If an irritant has affected your eye, you should begin flushing as soon as you can, ideally within the first 10 seconds. A coworker or supervisor should be notified ASAP so they can contact 911. In general, you should flush your eyes for approximately 20 minutes, but flushing times vary based on the type of the chemical or irritant.

All employees should receive proper training on how to use the eye wash station in your facility as well as the proper procedures of the station and your company’s safety response plan.

Dangers of Blue Light
Office workers and employees that spend the majority of their day working on a computer are also at risk of injuries to the eyes. Dangers of blue light include digital eye strain, eye fatigue, dry eyes, retina damage and other vision problems.

A recent survey by the Vision Council on blue light exposure and digital eye strain found that 87 percent of respondents use digital devices for more than two hours per day, with 52 percent using two or more digital devices at the same time.

How to Keep Eyes Safe from Blue Light
You can protect your eyes from the dangers of blue light by taking precautions to rest your eyes throughout the day.

  • Reposition your computer screen - Your screen should be at a right angle away from direct light sources
  • Invest in an anti-glare screen for your monitor
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule – Every 20 minutes look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds
  • Don’t forget to blink – Blinking regularly will help keep your eyes from drying out
  • Drink water – Staying hydrated will help keep your eyes from drying out, especially in the winter months when the air inside is drier
  • Schedule regular eye exams

Want to learn more about Workplace Eye Wellness Month? Visit Prevent Blindness.

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