Internationally there are 2000 workplace injuries per day . . . which equates to enough injuries to fill a typical 40,000 seat stadium each month. An estimated 200 eye injuries occur in Canada daily according to the CNIB (Canadian Institute for the Blind).
A foreign body in the eyes in the most common type of injury, accounting for 35% of the total. Open wounds and contusions each account for about 25% and the remaining injuries are burns. Eye injuries along cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.
Every workplace has its share of eye hazards, and it’s foolish not to protect yourself from them. An injury which might be minor if inflicted elsewhere can be catastrophic when it happens to your eyes.
If you always wear your eye protection you can be sure you’ll still be going on that fishing trip next weekend or in the next company golf tournament. If you occasionally choose not to wear eye protection – ask yourself, “what am I really gaining by not wearing it?” You may not be gaining anything.
But you do have a lot to lose if you choose not to wear your eye protection!
90% of all these injuries could have been avoided with the proper use of eyewear. However, ordinary eye glasses are not effective eye protection. These present added hazards as they are not designed to protect from sharp high impact objects. Ordinary eyeglasses create their own hazards when shattered. Basically, it comes down to this! Don’t take a gamble as you only have two eyes!
Even safety glasses can break or shatter under certain conditions, but wearing them will certainly reduce your odds against a serious eye injury. The basic type of safety eyewear which is recommended by the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness is “safety glasses with side shields”. These are also available with prescription lenses.
Fit is very important! If your glasses tend to slip down your nose, your eyes are at risk from objects that could strike from above. If their fit is too small or uncomfortable, you are likely to take them off when they should not be removed. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice the comfort of your nose and your ears to protect your eyes.
There once was a time when all you could purchase was “one size fits all – Buddy Holly type safety glasses” but that’s no longer the case. If you need a pair of light weight, odd size, neon green glasses, they are available! When safety eyewear fits comfortably and also looks good, there’s no reason not to wear it!
There is no part of a shop or plant where your eyes are safe without eye protection. Anyone going from an office area to a shop or plant area must always wear eye protection – even if it’s just for a few minutes. It doesn’t matter if you are a plant manager, a machinist or a mail person, the fact that you are just passing through is no excuse! Visitors’ glasses should always be available – and we should insist that they be worn by everyone before entering a restricted area.
Safety eyewear will protect you from many hazards, but remember, they won’t do any good in your pocket. Put them on before an eye hazard flies your way. Only you can decide to actually wear your eye protection. But we need to remember that they won’t protect against all exposures in the workplace. After all PPE in general is our last line of defence in protection against hazards of the workplace!
Since entering the Occupational Health and Safety field in 2008, Simon Mac Innis has been committed to the health and safety of those in the construction and trades industries. Today, he works as a OH&S Manager/Trainer implementing new policies and procedures, maintenance programs, and ensuring a safe environment for employees, brokers, and visitors.