Something quite interesting happened while doing research on eye injuries in the U.S. workplace. After reviewing articles from a variety of sources dating back a good ten or more years, the statistics about how many work-related eye injuries occur in this country, how they happened, and even why they happened seem to remain consistent.
For instance, here is what we found:
- Three out of five workers that suffered eye injuries on the job were not wearing eye protection or were wearing incorrect eye protection
- The majority of workplace eye injuries are caused by small objects – metal slivers, wood chips, dust, etc. that become airborne and strike the eye
- A high number of eye injuries are the result of flying or falling objects or “sparks” striking the eye
- The majority of these flying objects, about three-fifths, were smaller than a pinhead
- While it varies somewhat, injuries to the eyes accounted for approximately 40 percent of all head injuries involving days away from work over the past decade
- The age group typically most impacted by eye injuries are workers aged 20 to 40
- Wearing protective gear and wearing the right protective eyewear can help prevent as many as 90 percent of all eye injuries
However, it appears one figure has changed over the years and that is how many eye injuries occur annually in this country. This could also reflect the fact that there were more workers in the workplace today than a decade or more ago. Whatever the cause, and it does vary depending on the source, in 2005, there were about one million eye injuries annually in the U.S.; today, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, that figured has jumped to more than 2 million.
These statistics beg the question, aren’t workers concerned about protecting their eyes? Of course they are, but there are a number of factors that consistently come in to play that appear to answer the question as to why eye injuries still take such a toll on American workers.
For instance, eye protection is not always integrated well into other PPE protection. Some workers place more emphasis on PPE protection on the body and not as much as it should the face and more specifically, the eyes. This might be one reason why so many workers, more than 90 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), suffer eye injuries as a result of objects or chemicals working their way under or around protective eyewear.
Another factor, and one that appears to persist over the years, is the fact that many workers do not wear protective eyewear because they either do not like the way it looks on them or the eyewear is not comfortable. As a result, the protective eyewear either gets left on the shelf or finds a home on top of the workers head, not over the eyes.
Some manufacturers are addressing this issue. For instance, Impact Products ProGuard protective eyewear has the “look” of high end, designer glasses and sun glasses with such features as colored lenses and wrap around designs. This allows the worker to express their individuality, just as they would selecting designer glasses. Further, we are adding comfort enhancing features such as:
- Cushioned brows
- Padded nose bridges
- Different sized eyewear to fit small to large faces
- Eyewear specifically designed for oval, square, triangular, or round faces
- Anti-fogging lenses
- Eyewear with reading magnification, eliminating the need to remove the lenses to read – and forgetting to put them back on
- Vented and where needed, non-vented frames.
The goal is simple. While they must meet ANSI and related standards when it comes to manufacturing protective eyewear, Impact Products is responding to the ongoing eye injury problem by taking steps to eliminate any reasons for the worker not to wear protective eyewear.
For more information on protective eyewear, contact an Impact Products Specialist at 800-333-1541.