The CDC says that about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment every day. Approximately 1/3 of these injuries will be treated in a hospital emergency department. And more than 100 of the injuries will lead to at least one day away from work.
Knowing those statistics, it’s no wonder March has been claimed as Workplace Eye Wellness Month!
The nation’s oldest volunteer eye health and safety group, Prevent Blindness, has claimed March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month. The goal of the organization is to give employers and employees the free information they need to best keep vision healthy on the job, regardless of a person’s position.
With more than 700,000 work-related eye injuries happening every year, Prevent Blindness has stepped up to try and aid in the prevention of as many work-related eye injuries and strains as possible. There are two main types of work-related eye issues that can arise: injuries and strains.
Despite there being hundreds of thousands of workplace eye injuries that occur on a yearly basis, they can generally be boiled down to a few common sources:
- Striking or Scraping: When small particles or debris strike or scrape the eye. This can include anything from dust and cement chips to metal slivers and wood chips. There are also cases when large objects strike the eye or face. For example, a worker may run into a piece of machinery, resulting in trauma or injury to the eye.
- Penetration: Things like nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal can easily go into and through the eyeball, leading to permanent vision loss.
- Chemical and Thermal Burns: Compounds like industrial chemicals or cleaning products are very commonly the cause of chemical burns to the eyes. Thermal burns can also happen, though are more common among welders.
Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are working remotely and spending time at home, meaning more time staring at screens. This can quickly lead to eye strain. Symptoms of eye strain include:
- Tired eyes
- Dry eyes
- Blurred vision
Screen Time-Out Awareness Campaign
As part of a recent campaign, Prevent Blindness has recently launched the Screen Time-Out awareness campaign. The goal of this program is to educate consumers about the impact of increased screen time and to encourage the public to regularly have screen breaks throughout their daily routines.
Companies can get in on this awareness campaign by using the shareable social media graphics that are available. Posting them on their social media channels or including them in company newsletters can be a great way to inform employees.
What Companies Can Do
To help employees avoid eye injury or strain, there are several things companies can do as part of March Workplace Eye Wellness Month:
- Have a safety meeting or toolbox talk on eye safety
- Deliver an eye safety message directly from management and leadership
- Contribute to the social media conversation by using the hashtag #WorkplaceEyeWellnessMonth
- Include information about your companies participation in Workplace Eye Wellness Month
- Provide eye safety tips in your company newsletter
- Hang eye safety posters around the workplace
- Have a review of all the eye safety signs in your workplace to make sure they are sufficient
- Challenge your employees with a safety quiz
- Complete an eye hazard assessment
- Eliminate any hazards that you can before starting work
- Use machine guarding, work screens, and other engineering controls
- Be sure everyone uses proper eye protection that is properly fitted
Companies should also encourage all office workers to heed the following guidelines for screen eye safety:
- Keep screens about 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a bit below eye level
- Use a document holder next to your screen, close enough to keep from swinging your head back and forth or constantly changing eye focus
- Change the lighting to reduce glare and harsh reflections
- Install glare fillers over screens
- Have adjustable office chairs
- Use screens that can tilt and swivel
- Use adjustable keyboards
- Suggest computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses to block blue light
- Encourage anti-reflective lenses to reduce glare and increase contrast while blocking blue light
- Take frequent breaks using the “20-20-20” rule
- For every two minutes, spend 20 seconds looking away from your screen at something at least 20 feet away
Your eyes are part of one of your major senses. They are crucial to leading a more comfortable life. Keeping your employees’ eyes healthy and safe will keep them on the job, working efficiently, and prevent any workplace accidents. Things like regular safety meetings and proper protective gear can save eyes from physical injury. Other good screen habits can keep your workers from experiencing eye strain. Implementing these can ultimately save your company money and loss of time.