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Workplace Eye Wellness Month: Take Care of Those Baby Blues – or Greens, Hazels, or Browns

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Better safe than sorry should be the motto of every workplace when it comes to the possibility of injuries, and eye injuries are no exception. March is designated as Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and your eyesight can be at risk in numerous ways.

The National Safety Council states, “all it takes is a tiny sliver of metal, particle of dust, or a splash of chemical to cause significant and permanent eye damage.” Almost 2000 people in the United States injure their eyes while working every day, and of these injuries, one third of them are severe enough to be treated at the hospital emergency room. This means almost one million Americans have experienced some vision loss due to eye injury, which has resulted in more than $300 million in lost work time, medical expenses, and worker’s compensation.

Many occupational eye injuries occur because employees are not wearing any eye protection while others result from wearing improper or poorly fitting eye protection. OSHA estimates 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the eyes. Some of the most common types of eye (and face) protection include safety spectacles, goggles, welding shields, laser safety goggles and face shields. Each type is designed to protect against specific hazards. For more specifics on PPE, check out OSHA’s publication on the subject - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3151.pdf.

Even though we normally think of work-related eye injuries happening from working with metal, wood, UV radiation burns or chemicals, there’s another culprit posing a threat to our vision – technology, specifically computers. Over exposure to computer screens may not permanently damage our vision, but it can make our eyes feel irritated and fatigued and may cause them to lose their ability to function properly. Computer vision syndrome is the most common eye problem, which is spending too much time in front of a computer screen without enough breaks. This can cause headaches, neck pain, back strain and dry eye. Studies have shown that when staring at a computer screen for extended periods, we do not blink as often, which prevents eyes from staying lubricated and moistened.

Here are some tips to keep your eyes feeling comfortable for those who spend many hours in front of a computer screen:
• Reposition your screen to keep any direct light source from causing a glare.
• Keep the computer roughly 30 inches away from your eyes.
• Remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
• Remember to blink frequently.

Let’s celebrate Workplace Eye Wellness Month by keeping these tips in mind and protecting those eyes!

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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