Over 15,000 workers suffered eye injuries on the job in 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Often, these injuries are the result of poor safety practices, which can stem from a lack of knowledge about safety, improper equipment, or just an overall lack of equipment. Ultimately, this tells us that most injuries can be prevented.
Prevent Blindness has designated March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month, so there is no better time than now to assess your workplace risks and craft a plan to prioritize eye health.
In this blog, we’ll explore common risks to eye health in the workplace, share who’s most at risk and offer tips for how to prioritize eye safety at work.
What are the top risks to eye health in the workplace?
Though the risks to eye health vary widely across different industries, protective eyewear and preventative care are important whether the job entails extended time at a computer or dealing with harsh chemicals.
Some hazards people are likely to encounter in the workplace include:
- Eye strain
- Dust, wood, metal, or other debris
- Chemicals or radioactive materials
- Pathogens carrying illness or disease
Issues stemming from overuse and eye strain may be a growing problem for eye wellness, but the most dangerous eye injuries typically occur when workers in hazardous settings lack adequate safety equipment or misuse the equipment available.
That’s why education about not just eye health, but also workplace safety and equipment usage is critical to preventing injuries — which could leave teams short-staffed and at risk for more injuries.
Who needs to consider their eye health at work?
Anyone interacting with hazardous materials, powerful equipment, or straining their eyes for extended periods of time should be mindful of their eye health. People in these settings are at increased risk for abrasions, burns, and trauma–the most common forms of eye injuries.
Businesses and workers in these industries should be particularly attuned to eye safety and wellness:
- Office workers
From headaches caused by overuse to major trauma sustained on a construction site, the range of workplace eye injuries is vast. For employers, the ramifications of injured workers can be quite vast as well.
Injured workers may just spend a couple of days out recovering, or they could require worker’s compensation and extended leave. This can put added stress on the business and its fellow employees. In workplaces where eye injuries are a risk (even office workers can suffer scratched corneas due to dryness and itching!) proper eye care helps to keep people safe, healthy, and motivated.
How to prioritize eye health
Experts estimate that a whopping 90% of workplace eye injuries are preventable, so proactive measures are critical to keeping yourself and your team safe.
Here are important steps anyone can take to prioritize eye health on the job.
Limit screen time. Computer screens and phone screens might not seem like a health hazard, but extended use without breaks and proper care can cause computer vision syndrome, which contributes to headaches, blurred vision, and pain in the neck and back. Taking breaks from screens and using artificial tears allows eyes to rest and prevents strain.
Assess your workplace hazards. To implement the best safety measures possible, you first need to understand the risks present in your workplace. Although some workplaces can maintain high safety standards with safety glasses or goggles, others may require helmets with full face shields and special filters.
A thorough assessment of your hazards enables you to see if your workplace is adding unnecessary risks. An assessment can also be used to determine whether team members know the risks, safety and emergency protocols, and the locations of first aid stations.
Use protective eyewear. In any situation where workers may come into contact with hazardous materials or rays, protective eyewear like goggles, shields, or safety glasses are critical. Such equipment should be readily available, and clear protocols should be in place and prominently displayed.
Schedule regular exams. Optimal eye health and strong vision enable workers to properly assess their own safety on the job, so regular exams are a crucial part of eye care. In many industries, color perception is important to job safety. Industrial settings, manufacturers and construction sites often use specific colors to indicate hazards, so poor color perception can pose a major safety risk.
Regular, comprehensive eye exams enable workers to understand their individual risks and take steps to improve or maintain their eye health.
How 20/20 Onsite can help
Although the best eye protection for you depends on your workplace, preventative care is important in every industry. 20/20 Onsite brings standard eye care as well as visual acuity and ocular safety directly to the workplace, making the process easy and stress-free. Learn how you can bring regulation testing to your worksite.
Our team is knowledgeable in broad federal standards and industry-specific regulations. With on-site eye care and vision testing, companies maintain compliance and ensure employee safety. Plus, accessible care demonstrates your company is invested in the health and safety of your team — a trait that is of growing importance to many workers.
Bring on-site eye exams or regulation vision testing to your work with 20/20 Onsite. Get in touch with us today to learn more.