Expanding the culture of safety beyond the workplace
The proper use of safety eyewear has significantly reduced the number of eye injuries in the workplace over the last 20 years. Today, workplace eye injuries average just under 800,000 per year, and that number continues to drop. This success is due to a number of factors including regulation by OSHA, improved product offerings and better-informed safety professionals.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about off-the-job eye safety. Eye injuries occurring at home average a startling 125,000 per year – a number that’s on the rise. Common household dangers are present everywhere from the bathroom to the garage and even the backyard. Fortunately, experts agree that more than ninety percent of all eye injuries can be prevented through the proper knowledge, safety practices and use of protective eyewear.
By encouraging workers to bring safety practices from the workplace into the home, you can improve off-the-job eye safety. Have workers conduct a survey of the potential hazards around their homes and share the guidelines below. Your workforce will be better equipped to avoid injury, decrease lost time at work and protect their vision – a benefit everyone can see.
As summer gets into full swing, consider the many common – and often unrecognized – eye hazards outside the home. Rocks, branches, debris and dust can all pose significant risks to unprotected eyes. Before mowing, inspect the lawn and remove debris and rocks that could kick up. When trimming, wear safety eyewear to protect eyes from flying limbs, particles and dust. Cut back limbs that rest at eye level. When applying fertilizer and pesticide, wear chemical goggles to protect from particle contamination and splashes. Store paint, oil, fertilizer and other chemicals in a secure, ventilated area where they cannot be tipped over or accessed by children or animals. Finally, maintain tools to ensure proper performance, just as you would at work.
Many do-it-yourself projects take place inside the home. Gaining in popularity, do-it-yourself projects can expose individuals to unfamiliar challenges – such as those posed by rented tools or cramped workspaces – and increased risks. Be sure to read and follow safety guidelines on tools. For many home-based projects, a basic set of well-fitting safety eyewear will provide ample protection from impact. However, consider the hazards specific to the job to determine whether goggles, face shields or even respiratory protection are required, as in the case of high particulate projects like sanding drywall. Encourage workers to keep single-use eyewash bottles on hand to safely flush nuisance irritants such as dust and sand.
Be aware that many everyday household products are hazardous, especially when they make contact with the eyes. When using strong solvents and detergents, wearing safety goggles is recommended. Designed to provide complete eye protection from liquid splash and airborne particles, chemical goggles protect by creating a close seal around the eyes—something standard safety spectacles do not provide. Never mix cleaning agents, and read and follow all manufacturer instructions and warning labels. Many labels include instructions for flushing the eyes in case of emergency; if a product whose label references a 15-minute flushing requirement comes in contact with the eye, it may be necessary to seek medical attention.
Selecting off-the-job safety eyewear
Studies show that individuals are less likely to wear protective eyewear when it does not fit properly, is uncomfortable or causes even minor vision distortion. Fortunately, a broad array of protective eyewear styles, sizes and colors is available today to meet the safety and comfort needs of every individual.
By raising awareness for the many options available, safety managers can help individuals find the protective eyewear that works for them – and improve eye safety both on and off the job. Companies that recognize the value of home safety as an extension of their overall safety culture can benefit from conducting workplace training on home safety and even offering safety equipment for use at home.
Like the workplace, home is not necessarily a safe haven for our eyes. Consider your workers’ safety both on and off the job to help keep overall injuries and health-care costs down, keep productivity up and empower employees to live within a culture of safety everywhere they go.
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