In the past, your Workplace Health and Safety Committee has carried spare safety glasses to handout when they found missing, damaged or scratched safety glasses. Recently they were denied an order of 48 glasses. The glasses vary in cost depending on the style from $2 to $6 dollars. Yes, that’s under $288 dollars for the high end style.
Why would a company like Bell Canada shortchange the safety of its employees? Ok, that could be a rhetorical question.
To anyone who thinks eye protection may not be a crucial component of PPE in the workplace, think again. Nearly three out of five injured workers were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job. Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.
The majority of workplace eye injuries are caused by small particles or objects (such as metal slivers, wood chips or dust) striking or abrading the eye. Injured workers said that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pinhead. Injuries can also occur when nails, staples or metal penetrate the eyeball, which can result in a permanent loss of vision. Blunt force traumas caused by objects striking the eyes or face or from a worker running into an object are another threat, as are chemical burns from splashes of industrial chemicals or cleaning products.
The role of comfort in eye protection cannot be underestimated. Research has shown that comfort as well as style helps drive compliance with PPE-wearing protocols. PPE that allows workers to express their individuality also leads to greater compliance. Providing a range of options in terms of color and other style aspects gives workers some control over how they look. When people are content with their appearance in the PPE, it follows that they will be more likely to wear the PPE appropriately. And PPE that is perceived as “cool” is more likely to be worn.
Employees also must take care of protective eyewear to avoid scratches. Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents. Glasses that are scratched or pitted should be discarded and replaced immediately.
An on-the-job eye injury can cause lasting and permanent vision damage, potentially disabling a worker for life. Even “minor” eye injuries can cause long-term vision problems and suffering, such as recurrent and painful corneal erosion from a simple scratch from sawdust, cement or drywall.
An estimated 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear!
With a statistic as compelling as this, it makes both common and economic sense to do everything possible to make sure workers have the right PPE to protect their eyes on the job.
Every employer should make it a safety priority for its workers to operate with clear vision in their workplace and surroundings.
Your Local and the 416 WHSC committee will be pursuing this issue.
If you have damaged or scratched safety glasses ask your manager to replace them. When lenses are scratched, vision becomes impaired and eyes are strained. When glasses are damaged, they may lose their ability to protect as they were designed to, and they are a safety hazard.