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March is Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month!

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. Safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of workplace eye injuries. Prevent workplace eye strain and eye injuries by following the important steps listed below.

There are four things you can do to help prevent an eye injury:

  • Know the eye safety dangers.
  • Eliminate hazards before starting work, using machine guards, work screens or other engineering controls.
  • Use proper eye protection and make sure it is correctly fitted.
  • Keep safety eyewear in good condition and replace it if it is damaged.

Anyone working in or passing through areas with potential eye hazards should wear protective eyewear. Potential hazards against which eye protection is needed in the workplace are:

  • Projectiles (dust, concrete, metal, wood, other particles)
  • Chemicals (splashes and fumes)
  • Radiation (visible light, ultraviolet radiation, infrared radiation, lasers)
  • Blood borne pathogens from blood and body fluids. Safety eyewear includes: non-prescription and prescription safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, and full-face respirators.

The type of safety protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace. Employers can take steps to make the work environment as safe as possible. This includes:

  • Conducting an eye hazard assessment of the workplace
  • Removing or reducing eye hazards where possible
  • Providing appropriate safety eyewear and requiring employees to wear it.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), nearly half of all Americans (46%) spend five or more hours per day using a computer or a PDA (personal digital assistant). Prolonged use of electronic devices may lead to symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) such as eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision and loss of focus.

The AOA encourages all technology users to follow these recommendations:

  • ™Follow the 20-20-20 rule.
  • At least every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  • ™Sit about 25 inches away from the computer screen, positioning the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward. ™
  • Increase font size instead of bringing the screen closer to your eyes. ™ Better resolution offers greater clarity and often more comfort. Adjust the screen to a comfortable intensity and resolution. ™
  • Reduce glare. Try to make sure lighting is not directly behind the head or in front of the screen.

 

Sources: American Optometric Association and Prevent Blindness America To learn more: http://www.aoa.org/eye-protection.xml http://www.preventblindness.org/safety/worksafe.html