Each day, nearly 2,000 American workers suffer from avoidable workplace eye injuries that require medical treatment. Despite the risk of eye injury, many workers bypass appropriate precautions to protect their eyes. On December 8, The Vision Council, with the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), announced the release of a new issue brief, Eye Safety At-a-Glance: Protecting Your Vision at Work, about the importance of protecting eyes while on the job.
In addition to the physical toll of workplace eye injuries, they also come at great cost to businesses. About $300 million annually in medical bills, compensation and downtime is the result of workplace eye injury. Lost productivity is another consequence, with approximately 27,000 reported days away from work among private industry employees ( 2008).
"Although workplace eye injuries are devastating, there is a positive story to about prevention when workers consistently use the right protective eyewear," said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. "The Vision Council wants to ensure that business owners and workers are aware that proper eye protection can prevent eye injuries and vision loss."
Eye hazards can be found in every industry. While 61 percent of eye injuries occur in manufacturing, construction or trade jobs, threats like chemical exposure can happen hospitals, laboratories and other workplace settings. Research also shows that nearly three out of five workers injured were wearing the wrong kind or no eye protection at all.
Employers are required to assess eye safety hazards in the workplace and take measures to ensure employee safety through compliance with government regulations for eyewear and eyewash stations. Employees should also be aware of eye injury potential and ways to protect themselves.
Safety eyewear protection includes:
Eye hazards and vision safety have been a focus of ASSE. ASSE serves as secretariat for several American National Standard Institute projects and was formerly secretariat for the Z87 standard, focusing on vision safety, eye and face protection in the workplace and provides guidelines for eye protection design and construction.
To view or download a copy of The Vision Council's Eye Safety At-a-Glance: Protecting Your Vision in the Workplace issue brief, visit www.thevisioncouncil.org/consumers.