We've all seen it before - the landscaper using a line trimmer as it throws rocks, grass and dust, all the while the user is squinting trying to protect their eyes. Or, my favorite, the carpenter using a powered circular saw to rip down a piece of ply wood with their eyes closed. What do both of these examples have in common? They are all "hoping" they don't get anything in their eyes and sustain a nasty injury. It's amazing when people do these types of things, assuming that they won't get hurt. However, the simple addition of a pair of ANSI Z87 rated safety glasses can make a world of difference.
Our eyes are like round globules of a priceless precious metal. You only have two of them, they can't be replicated, and if you lose one, or worse both of them, you can't get them back! Nowadays, safety eyewear is the most widely used piece of PPE. It is also the most affordable. Many ask the question, "why don't people wear their glasses?" A simple and common answer is just complacency.
To understand a little more why wearing safety glasses is so important, we can dive into the world of statistics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 workplace eye injuries happen each year. Injuries on the job often require one or more missed work days for recovery. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace eye injuries cost an estimated $300 million a year in lost productivity, medical treatment and worker compensation.
These injuries range from simple eye strain to severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss and blindness.
The most important thing you can do to protect your vision at work is to always wear appropriate protective eyewear, which can prevent more than 90 percent of serious eye injuries.
"As Ben Franklin once said, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,'" said ophthalmologist Anne Sumers, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "It takes very little effort to protect yourself from on-the-job hazards that can cause blinding eye injuries. We strongly advise workers and their employers not to let their guard down when it comes to eye protection."
Putting on safety glasses is one thing, however, some can mistakenly put on glasses and find out after a blow or object striking the lens that they shatter, or that the object penetrates the eyes causing traumatic injury. It is so important that the safety glasses we use on and off the job, whether they be non-prescription or prescription safety glasses, all have the Z87/Z87 + rating etched on the arms and lenses. It's easy to buy "safety glasses" at your local dollar or hardware store, but if they do not have the rating, DO NOT BUY THEM!
Walking through countless facilities where safety glasses are supposed requires, we see that they aren't being donned. If one could only imagine if eye injuries or losses were as common as cuts and scrapes, I firmly believe eye PPE would be worn everywhere at work, home and anytime our eyes were in danger. A little determination and implementation is all you need to ensure that you will be able to see for the rest of your life.