Eye protection: Are you in the 35-percent group?

By Greg Collins, Industrial Safety Administrator for the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program

Eye Injury Prevention Month is here, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has some information that you may find surprising.

Each year, about 2.4 million people suffer an eye injury. Many people think these injuries mostly happen in the workplace. However, about half of all eye injuries occur in the home.

The reason for this becomes clearer when you look at the statistics. According to the AAO, only about 35 percent of people working on projects at home wear protective eyewear. Luckily, this eyewear is readily available from safety suppliers, hardware stores and home-improvement stores. When choosing safety eyewear, remember to look for a marking required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). You should see a marking on the earpiece or lens that says ANSI Z87.1 or just Z87.1.

When you think about it, there are many hazardous exposures in the home, for example cleaning chemicals or flying particles. The AAO believes every home should have at least one pair of protective eyewear. However, when working around the house, it’s best to just keep other family members, especially children, away from these hazards.

Another good rule of thumb is if you are using a power tool, use eye protection. Make it a habit to wear safety glasses when working on your car, driving nails and doing most other physical work.

In the workplace, employers should also determine the type of protective eyewear their employees should be wearing. Employers seeking help in making this determination can contact one of our safety consultants for expert advice.

The loss of eyesight is a terrible tragedy for anyone. It’s even more tragic when you realize these losses are so easily preventable by simply wearing protective eyewear. Whether you’re at home or work, always remember to protect this precious asset.

Additional resources
AAO – Preventing eye injuries
Indiana University – Eye safety reminders

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