Workplace eye injuries by the numbers
According to the Centers for Disease Control, workplace eye injuries send 300,000 people to the emergency room every year, and the number more than doubles when you include any kind of medical treatment. The American Academy of Ophthalmology developed a Workplace Eye Injuries by the Numbers infographic that lays out the statistics. Take a closer look at the industries most affected. You may be surprised at who’s there.
Alaska mining company makes the switch for eye safety.
Alaska. A rich landscape for mining companies. A tough safety environment for mine workers.
That’s the word we recently heard from a major global mining company and new Defog It anti-fog user. Cold temperatures? Naturally. Hot work? Absolutely. Add the possibility of confined areas and changeable weather, keeping safety eyewear fog-free can become a constant problem.
One of the company’s safety and health training officers learned about Defog It anti-fog and decided to put it to the test. The results. Hear it straight from the customer:
“We love your product! Truly the best anti-fog I have ever tried. I turned the ordering over to our materials management group, and you should be seeing more orders.”
Defog It: A safety priority in mining
Safety eyewear compliance can be a challenge in the mining industry. Jerry Daniels, a long-time MSHA mine safety trainer, says anti-fog can make a difference in creating a workplace safety culture. In an article in Occupational Health and Safety magazine by Nanofilm’s Jodi Groh, Daniels notes that addressing environmental factors like fogging, as well as all human factors, is a core component. Read the article that identifies the fogging danger zones that can reduce safety eyewear compliance and ideas on ways to improve it.
8 tips on heat stress and the summer workplace
Thousands of workers become sick from heat stress every year, OSHA tells us. Some people, like bakers or power plant workers, are exposed to high levels of heat year round. Summer temperatures add a whole new group of at-risk individuals, possibly more prone to danger because they’re less accustomed to the signs and remedies. These workers can suffer from heat exhaustion, cramps, rashes, fainting and even heat stroke. “De-stress from Heat Stress”, a recent article in ISHN Magazine, offers a number of tips, and we’ve gathered a few of our own from OSHA, the CDC and ASSE.
- Know who’s at most risk. Pay special attention to new or returning workers. They may not recognize the symptoms. Workers who are 65 or older, overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure may be more at risk.
- Dress for the heat. Light-colored, comfortable clothing of breathable fabric, such as cotton, is best. And wear a hat.
- Keep protective eyewear fog-free. ASSE notes that anti-fog lens protection and sufficient ventilation will help prevent the risk of lens fogging from the heat. Sweatbands can prevent perspiration from dripping into the eyes.
- Drink fluids at a work site. OSHA recommends workers drink water every 15-20 minutes, whether or not they’re thirsty. Limit caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, as well as drinks with large amounts of sugar. They can cause dehydration.
- Create shade. The temperature difference created by a tent or indoor space gives workers the opportunity to cool down.
- Know the heat index. That’s a calculation that combines the air temperature and the humidity. When the humidity is high, a person’s sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly to cool the skin. The higher the heat index, the higher the risk of heat stress. These days, most weather reports include the heat index, and OSHA offers a heat index calculator.
- Recognize the symptoms of heat stress. They can include hot, dry skin or profuse sweating; hallucinations; chills; severe headache; elevated body temperature; confusion; dizziness or slurred speech.
- Have a plan, educate workers, be alert. Know what to do in an emergency: understand the first aid steps to take and immediately call for emergency medical help if needed. For more on emergency planning, review the OSHA guidelines for heat stress response.
A prescription safety eyewear program: good for you and your employees.
Have you thought about a prescription safety eyewear program for your workplace? Over 75% of adults wear some sort of vision correction, and 63% are eyeglasses wearers. Are they wearing safety glasses or goggles over their prescription eyewear? That can affect the fit, leaving a worker partially unprotected. Double coverage can also increase the likelihood of fogging.
Setting up a prescription safety eyewear program is easier that you think. We asked John Callahan of Halpern Eye Associates who’s set up scores of programs for companies in the Northeast for his advice.
Eyewear program vs. Eyewear vouchers
Prescription eyewear vouchers, explained. Some companies offer vouchers or reimbursement to pay for safety glasses employees buy on their own at a participating local eyecare professional or retailer.
The pros: A voucher program is fairly simple to institute. It puts employees in control to make their own choices on their own time. And since there’s usually a fixed amount, say $100 per voucher, it’s easy to predict the bottom line cost.
The considerations: All eyecare needs aren’t equal. Vouchers usually cover the cost of single-vision lenses, but a worker who needs bifocals or trifocals will have higher out-of-pocket expense for the more expensive lenses. They may choose to skip prescription safety eyewear and use goggles with their inherent fit issues. They may even skip eye exams. Both are safety issues.
What about a prescription eyewear program?
The pros: You can set up a tiered program that assures bifocal or trifocal wearers are able to afford proper safety eyewear, even though it may be more expensive than single-vision lenses. If your workforce is older, this can be particularly important. The program is easy to put in place with a proper partner. The provider is often willing to do the fitting and ordering on site from a pre-set selection of frames and lenses.
The considerations: Work with an experienced program professional to be sure you have a cost-effective, user friendly program. By careful selection of frames and lenses, you may be able to offer workers better options for the same cost as vouchers.
Planning success: tips from the experts.
- Check the safety ratings for lens and frames offered. Both should be ANSI approved and follow OSHA guidelines for the workplace environment. Consider wraparound designs or permanently attached sideguards.
- Control choices. These are glasses for work only. You need a variety of frames for a comfortable fit, but not a fashion show. Lens upgrades like tints or advanced materials don’t need to be part of the mix unless they’re a safety feature.
- Set a timeframe. At Halpern, they recommend replacement every two years. It triggers workers to take responsibility for proper eyewear care. It also prompts regular eye exams, a workplace safety advantage all its own.
- Consider payroll deduction. If out-of-pocket costs will be significant, make it easier for employees to pay for the safety glasses they need.
- Offer accessories to improve compliance and protect your investment. Eyeglass chains or cords and anti-fog help workers keep glasses on or nearby. Cases and lens cleaner extend their life.
How do I find a provider?
Ask your own eye doctor, local opticians or a lens-making lab in your area. The company that provides your non-prescription safety eyewear may have a division that does prescription programs or be able to make a recommendation.
Free whitepaper on the factors that make anti-fog for safety eyewear critical.
Whether you’re in manufacturing, construction, transportation, service or even retail work, it’s likely your employees have at least an occasional fogging problem that deters them from wearing safety eyewear. In fact, in a 2009 study, every single focus group named fogging as reason for noncompliance.
5 Fogging Danger Zones is a fact-filled whitepaper to help you understand the causes of fogging and how to address them. You’ll find tips to help you pinpoint problems in your own workplace environment, learn why some workers have more problems than others, and consider solutions to eliminate fogging and vision safety hazards.
90% of the eye injuries could be prevented by protective eyewear. This whitepaper could help make the difference in your workplace.
“Not another safety meeting....” That’s a complaint we’ve all heard far too often. How can you get employees focused and engaged so they walk away energized and committed to safety? Here are some tips from training specialists.
- Use visuals to get across your message. A photo or chart that shows the harm of a safety lapse is memorable. A video that demonstrates the right way to tackle a job is easier to comprehend.
- Make it a two-way conversation. Audio visual aids are powerful tools, but just droning over a PowerPoint or watching a DVD isn’t training. A real, live interaction will help you discover questions or problems so you can address them.
- Add an activity. A hands-on demonstration, some role-playing or a written quiz helps bring a safety message to life.
- Don’t forget a Q&A session. It helps you be sure the message was received and reinforces it.
- Follow the 30-minute rule. That’s the attention span of most people, so keep your agenda focused. If you need longer, break the meeting into multiple segments.
- Every employee should walk away with printed information. A handout helps keep a message top of mind and provides good reference.
Driving, electrical work and health care – do you know the hazards of each? Or what types of protective eyewear are best suited for these careers? This chart, from The Vision Council, provides an excellent overview.
When there’s a workplace accident, sales feels the pain.
The true cost of a workplace injury is like the proverbial iceberg. So much of it is hidden below the surface. It’s not just the expenses directly associated with the injured worker. We talked about it in our last issue: there’s the lost time and productivity of other workers and supervisors, new hires, retraining, dissatisfied customers, lost sales and the like. The real cost? An injury of $1000 in direct expenses could actually cost as much as $5000.
Those hidden costs are definitely not paid for by insurance. Covering them comes down to increasing your revenues or settling for smaller profits. How much are we talking about? Let’s do the math. If the full cost of an accident is $5,000, and your company’s profit margin is 4 percent, you need to bring in $125,000 in sales to cover it. If you operate on smaller margins, the squeeze is even tighter. Just a $1,000 accident requires $33,000 sales increase if your profit margin is 3 percent.
Chart courtesy of Metal Forming Magazine
How much is safety worth? Plenty!
Investing in safety protects your profits. It’s that simple. When you think about your business balance sheet, shift you safety efforts from “cost” to “asset.” Reduce injuries and the associated costs by assessments, training, proper PPE, and follow-through. You’ll see the positive impact on the bottom line.
Check out the Top 10 occupations.
Whether or not you’re employed in one of these occupations, take the time to conduct an overall safety assessment of your work environment.