When it comes to workers’ compensation claims and your risk management efforts to prevent them, employers may first think of slip-and-falls or motor vehicle accidents. However, there are other types of injuries to be prevented which meet the eye.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 alone there were more than 20,000 reported occupational eye injuries resulting in time off from work. March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, but it is a concern to be taken seriously all year long. There are plenty of measures organizations can take to avoid damage to employees’ eyes and their vision, and it goes beyond a regular eye exam.
Industrial Eye Safety
Employees may be regularly working with tools or machines that pose a risk of eye injuries. It’s up to your leadership and employees to identify and eliminate all hazards. It’s also critical that your employees are held accountable for using best practices.
• Offer proper training specific to machinery operations. Require your employees attend these trainings and have supervisors perform regular assessments to ensure compliance.
• Employees should be provided PPE that fits properly, is clean and undamaged.
• Before removing PPE, employees should be trained to remove excess debris.
• Employees should never rub their eyes with dirty hands or equipment.
• In the event of an eye injury, employees must have access to a stocked First Aid kit to initiate early treatment. This includes the availability of an eye wash station available.
Digital Eye Safety
In a world driven by technology, the same digital devices employees are equipped with to perform their jobs also poses risk of damage to their eyes. Prolonged exposure to computer, tablet and mobile phone screens can be harmful. Employees can experience eyestrain from digital devices, but there are measures that can be taken for successful prevention.
• Employees should be encouraged to get regular vision exams that includes getting their eyes dilated to detect any existing issues going unnoticed.
• At their desk, computer screens should be 20-26 inches away from the employee’s eyes. It’s also best that they are placed just below eye level.
• If referencing both printed documents and a screen, employees should use a document holder placed next to the screen. This prevents the employee from having to move their eyes back and forth, thus constantly readjusting their eye focus.
• Employees should adjust the size of text on all screens so that there’s no squinting necessary.
• When possible, lighting should be adjusted to lessen glare and reduce harsh reflections. In areas where this isn’t as realistic- like cubicles- consider offering glare filters for your employees’ screens.
For employees in any role, the Vision Council suggests the 20-20-20 rule, which says that employees should take a 20-second break every 20-minutes and look at an object about 20 feet away.
Safety programs are critical for a company’s workforce and financial health. Working alongside other best-in-class companies, members of PBA have access to the greatest resources in risk management.