Workers should be the first line of defense against injuries and hazards. After all, they’re the ones immersed in a job every day, all day. But two recent studies found workers are hesitant to speak up – and that can create a serious gap in your safety plan.
The first study, done with teenage workers in Canada, found that most young workers play a waiting game when it comes to safety concerns. Why? Among the reasons they gave were:
- fear of being fired
- too inexperienced
- supervisors would be indifferent
- felt powerless
Another study found that one in four adult workers, or 27%, failed to report injuries. The research participants could choose from 21 reasons for their silence. 72% said the injury was “too small” to report. Other top responses were similar:
- Accepting pain as part of the job
- Not wanting to be labeled a “complainer”
- Fearing the loss of future or current jobs
- Not being able to afford time off without pay to see a doctor
- Not wanting to lose out on the safety incentive for no lost work time
How can supervisors get the honest safety input they need?
The authors of the studies suggested some remedies for the issues their research discovered. They all center on the power of supervisors to shape the culture. Here are some of the suggestions:
- Speak with subordinates daily, and it doesn’t need to be about safety. A more personal relationship will help workers understand they can take issues to you as someone who cares about their safety.
- Define “near misses” and “small injuries” as learning experiences and a chance to prevent future problems – not a cause for punishment.
- Actively listen to worker concerns. If you want people to speak up, take every conversation seriously.
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Key steps that make the difference
You know the facts: 90% of eye injuries can be avoided when workers are wearing the proper safety eyewear. But how do you define “proper”? Start with this article in Occupational Health and Safety magazine by Daniel Birch and David Iannelli of Honeywell Safety Products. Here are a few of the key points from Tips for Delivering a Comprehensive Safety Eyewear Program:
Assess the hazards: Start with a thorough facility walk-through to assess hazards in each work zone. Note machinery, chemicals and other risks. Then review the safety data sheets for additional precautions. This will form the basis for choosing the appropriate level of eye protection based on OSHA and ANSI guidelines.
Select the proper type of eyewear: This can be simply impact-resistant safety eyewear or choices that provide additional protection, such as wraparound glasses, sealed eyewear and goggles. Be aware of fit, appearance and comfort issues, from fogging to head straps, and fashion to foam inserts.
Address vision correction. 70% of workers require vision correction, according to the Vision Council. Over-the-glass safety eyewear is one solution, but you may want to consider prescription safety eyewear.
Consider the environmental demands. High-particulate workplaces can scratch lenses, high-heat environments can trigger fogging, and certain lighting may require tinted lenses. Be sure you’re choosing efficient and effective solutions.
Changing needs with changing seasons.
Highway and road maintenance is a 365-day-a-year task. Each season brings its own priorities, conditions – and hazards. Here are a few to keep in mind.
Construction and repair. Whether warm weather makes road work a year-round activity or you’re racing to finish projects before the snow flies, eye protection is a must. From patching potholes or repainting highway lines, there are a variety of eye hazards to consider: hot asphalt, flying dust and debris, paint and chemicals. And glass beads! Read this case study about the Idaho Department of Transportation crew that used Defog It anti-fog to fog-proof the closed goggles mandatory in their work with glass beads found in highway paint.
Snow removal. Be sure your team has fog protection for both their safety eyewear and regular prescription eyewear. Lower temperatures or just moving in and out of heated spaces can obscure vision. And remember, manufacturers recommend safety eyewear when operating snowblowers.
Brush and tree removal. In areas where warm weather allows, this is prime time for trimming trees, clearing brush and taking care of right-of-way clearance. Safety eyewear is recommended by all makers of chainsaws, mowers, leaf blowers and similar equipment.
Three ways it makes a difference you can see
You’re investing in the safety of your workforce with proper eyewear. To make sure it’s providing the best level of protection possible, a lens cleaning program should be part of your plan.
Clean means safe. Workers may not even notice that dust, grime and sweat are building up on lenses bit by bit. By having one or more convenient lens cleaning stations, you’re reminding them to see safe and be safe.
Clean means durable. The same soils that impair vision can also scratch or damage lenses and coatings. Remember that OSHA requires safety gear to be maintained in proper working order. Plus, eyewear that’s cared for lasts longer.
Clean means compliant. We all know that compliance with safety mandates is affected by issues of comfort and style. Clean, scratch-free eyewear can help remove any barriers.
Order your lens cleaning solution now. Call 216.447.1199 or 888-ENDS FOG for an instant care program: a 2.5 gallon container of Clarity lens cleaning liquid with 3 refillable 6-ounce spray bottles. Clarity lens care provides the highest level of cleaning effectiveness, according to independent tests, and no cleaner is safer on all lens and coatings.
The best safety ideas from recent articles that are worth another look.
Eight Cultural Imperatives for Workplace Safety. We all want to create a culture of safety. This article from Occupational Health and Safety magazine helps break it down into eight cultural drivers – and points out how success in safety comes from focus on each one.
Seven Strategies for a Safer Workplace. Complacency? “It sneaks up on you and bites you square in the _ _ _! That straight talk from Randy Royall is from his presentation at VPPPA 2013. Thanks to EHS Today magazine, we can all learn from his Seven Strategies for a Safer Workplace.
Four Clues Your Safety Culture Is Out of Balance. Rodney E. Grieve explains how a “be safe” mentality is not the same as a “be successful” mentality – and the ways to move the focus from lowering OSHA recordables to a true culture of safety. From Grieve’s 2013 ASSE presentation in Las Vegas and the pages of EHS Today.
The ROI of Safety. Workplace injury costs U.S. industry $70 billion annually. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as this article in Occupational Health and Safety magazine reminds us. Simon Herriott tells us that the true cost is double or triple because of indirect costs – from lost productivity to litigation to schedule delays.
- Employees can close the gaps in your safety culture. Want to make safety everyone’s job? Then remember to include front-line workers in the creation and documentation of work requirements. That’s the advice from this insightful article in ISHN magazine. The people performing the actual work may see things others can’t, and participation aids buy-in.
Eye Injury Prevention Month is a chance to make a difference at work and home.
The statistics are startling, and sad.
Eye Injury Prevention Month is October, a project of The American Academy of Ophthalmology, and an opportunity for workers and their families to remind themselves of the importance of proper eye safety measures.
56% of eye injuries happen at work. What can you do?
44% of eye injuries happen away from work. Take home this advice.
- Have a pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear in every home. They should be worn by all adults and children when doing home activities that could create an eye injury risk. That’s the recommendation from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma because more than 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented through use of appropriate protective eyewear.
- Look for risks at home – just like you do at work. Before you started a project at work, you’d clear the area of debris that could cause an eye injury. Think the same way about lawn care and garden projects. At work you wouldn’t handle chemicals without reading and following label directions. The ones in your workshop or garage deserve the same scrutiny.
- Make sure children wear sports appropriate eye protection for baseball, basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, and paintball.
There’s a lot of science in keeping your vision clear
To understand how anti-fog works, we need to think about how fog forms. The first part of the equation is temperature transfer. Any time surfaces of different temperatures come in contact, they try to equalize their temperature. That’s what happens when you pick up a cold glass of water: the warmth of your hands and the cold of the glass tend to equalize. Your hands get cooler, the glass gets warmer.
So where does fog come in? When you add the moisture that’s always in the air all around us. When hot and cold temperatures collide, the moisture condenses out of the air and onto the surfaces as the tiny water droplets we call fog.
It’s fine on a cold glass of water but trouble on your safety goggles. So how does anti-fog solve the problem? An anti-fog coating contains hydrophilic or “water-loving” ingredients. It’s like an invisible sponge that absorbs water and spreads it out over the coated surface, so the droplets remain too small to be seen.
What’s the secret of the best antifogs?
- There are plenty of water-loving ingredients in the formula. If the anti-fog is going to keep absorbing moisture, the type and amount of “water-loving” hydrophilics in the formula matters. More hydrophilics can absorb more moisture.
- They don’t wash away. Safety glasses and goggles are made of different kinds of plastics which are hydrophobic, or “water-hating”. It’s not easy to get a “water-loving” hydrophilic coating to adhere to them. The right ingredients and balance are crucial to get the anti-fog to bond tightly to the lens.
- The anti fog is matched to the lens material. There are dozens of different lens materials and coatings used on protective eyewear. A successful anti-fog has to be formulated to work on a wide range of lenses.
Want to know more? Download out our whitepaper, The Science of Safety: Anti Fog Formulation, and get the full-up science story. Or simply watch it Defog It in action in our demo video.
National Farm Safety & Health Week is September 15-21
As you sit down to dinner tonight, give a thought to the farmers and agricultural workers who helped put it on the table and the risks they faced bringing it to you.
Farmers, and their family members, are at very high risk for injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s among the most hazardous workplaces.
- More than 1.8 million full-time workers are employed in agriculture.
- Half a million youth under the age of 20 work on the farm where they live, and another 230,000 young people are hired for farm work.
- Each day in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, about 240 workers suffered an injury. That year, 476 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury.
- It’s estimated that in 2009 more than 3,400 young people were injured due to farm work. On average, 113 of them die annually from farm-related injuries.
Spread the word, learn how to help.
Find out more about National Farm Safety and Health Week. This website helps you understand the risks our agricultural workers face. And you’ll find a number of links for more safety outreach, as well as resources to keep farm workers, families and kids safer.