The month of March has been proclaimed Workplace Vision Wellness Month by healthy vision advocates Prevent Blindness America, and the group has offered several ideas and stats to make employers and workers think twice about the importance of healthy eyes.
Employers are encouraged to promote vision care services in the workplace, not only for the health of their employees but also as a cost-saving approach to business. In general, it is less costly to prevent vision impairments than to treat an individual with eye disease, or injuries caused by not using required eye PPE. The more vision ailments employees have, the more medical care they utilize, which in turn increases healthcare-related expenses.
Dr. Lindy Thomas of Eyes on Broadway in Portland, Oregon agrees. “Employers should support and encourage vision wellness exams for employees annually,” she said. “Prevention is key, as by the time functional vision is affected enough to prompt a person to schedule an eye exam, there may already be damage to the retina, the optic nerve, or other systemic health issues that need treatment, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.”
Stats on Damaged Eyesight
More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day, with one in 10 injuries requiring one or more missed workdays for recovery. Of the total amount of work-related injuries, 10-20% will cause temporary or permanent vision loss. Experts believe that the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of eye injuries in accidents, according to Prevent Blindness America.
The group offers up these stats as part of their Healthy Eyes Vision Wellness Program:
- 50,000 Americans lose their eyesight each year
- 1,046,920 people in the U.S. age 40 and older are blind
- 3,406,280 people in the U.S. age 40 and older are visually impaired
- Vision loss costs Americans $51.4 billion each year
Given these statistics, it’s important to be mindful of eye safety and to educate employers and their employees on the importance of vision health, including warning signs of potential eye disease and safety tips on how to avoid vision-threatening eye accidents.
The Eyes Have Standards
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) aims to make eye protection standards easy for employers. Its standard for eye protection, ANSI Z87.1-2015, establishes the criteria for using, testing, marking, choosing, and maintaining eye protection to prevent or minimize injuries from eye hazards.
This is where proper signage and labels come in handy; while having PPE on hand is helpful and required by OSHA in the manufacturing and construction trades, knowing where to find it is equally as important. Labeling and signage can alert employees when PPE is required, where to find it around a facility, and which eye hazards exist. DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products can assist in developing visual communication that keeps employees' vision intact and healthy. The company also offers up hundreds of premade eye and face protection signs to remind workers to wear PPE, including multilingual formats.
- News Story: Workplace Eye Wellness Month, 2016
- News Story: OSHA Updates Eye and Face Protection Standards
- Infographic: PPE