New Year’s Eye Safety Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions abound this time of year, covering every aspect of improving yourself from eating and fitness to organizing and relationships. Yet, even though about 2,000 workers a day suffer eye injury requiring medical treatment and about 125,000 eye injuries involving eyewash-stationcommon household activities take place yearly, rarely does anyone include an improved approach to eye safety in their resolution list.

Even if you don’t make it one of your resolution goals, at least resolve to focus on the basics of eye safety in the coming year. Basic eye safety includes:

  • Consistently wearing sunglasses with UV protection, even on cloudy days.
  • Making sure safety glasses or goggles are always readily available.
  • Getting an eye exam if you have not done so in the last couple of years.

To go even more in-depth with eye safety in 2014, consider carrying out a simple Eye Safety Audit both at home and at work. The basic assessment below, along with the additional resources that follow, exists to help you do just that.

Basic Eye Safety Audit

A Basic Eye Safety Audit doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. The four steps listed below won’t take long to complete but can go a long way in ensuring good eye health in 2014 and beyond.

  1. Assess: Take stock of your current approach to eye safety. Is appropriate protective eyewear readily available to fit the most common situations and individuals involved? Is the eyewear cared for properly? Is there a safety plan in place to prevent accidents? Is there an emergency plan in place? Has everyone been properly educated regarding eyewear safety, proper care of protective eyewear and appropriate emergency action?
  2. Evaluate: Take your assessment from Step 1 and ask these questions. Is additional appropriate eyewear needed? Is a safety plan needed? Or, does the current safety plan need revised? Is the plan written down? Does everyone know about the plan? What about the emergency plan should an accident occur?
  3. Plan: Make a list of the products needing purchased. Make a list of information needed for a comprehensive safety plan. Use the resources below to help create a safety plan and/or emergency plan.
  4. Implement: Go to Safetyglasses USA, with categories to help find the product to best meet your needs, to purchase the necessary safety eyewear. Finalize your eye safety and emergency plans as well as purchase the necessary items (such as emergency eyewash kits and posters) for each plan to be carried out effectively.

To help implement this Basic Eye Safety Audit, we’ve compiled a list of resources that provide the information necessary to protect your eyes and the eyes of those in our life.

Eye Safety Resources

Eye Injury Prevention: A Quick and Easy Approach

Sun Safety: What to Do Before, During & After Sun Exposure

A Lesson from Anderson Cooper: Your Eyes CAN Get Sunburned

Eye Injury Misconceptions

Take Time to Focus on Eye Health & Safety

Be Eye Safety Conscious: 5 Ways to Prevent Common Eye Irritations

A Serious Reality: Workplace Eye Safety Compliance

5 Tips for Promoting Workplace Safety

Eye Emergencies: Do You Know What to Do?

How to Clean Your Safety Glasses

Workplace Safety: Have You Learned from the Past?

Think Your Organization is One of the Safest in America?

Taking just a few minutes to read through these articles may provide the knowledge needed to help avoid becoming a part of the 2,000 workers daily or 125,000 individuals yearly outside of work receiving eye injuries that require medical attention not to mention the many now having to live with permanent eye damage.

The Impact of Sleep on Safety

Tired WorkerWhat factor at least partially caused the following disasters?

  • The incident at Three Mile Island nuclear facility in 1979.
  • Bhopal Union Carbide tragedy in 1984.
  • Chernobyl in 1986.
  • The space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986.
  • Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.
  • Estonia ferry disaster in 1994.

Here’s a hint. The commonality is also related to each of the following:

  • A 32% reduction in performance and alertness in the workplace.
  • Impaired ability to think and process information.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Inability to pay attention.
  • Twofold higher risk of sustaining an occupational injury.
  • Unscheduled absenteeism.
  • 20% of all motor vehicle crashes.

What’s the link? What do all of these have in common? Sleep deprivation.

The Problem of a Lack of Sleep

CNN reports that doctors believe fatigue to be “dangerous.” Additionally, research shows that “America’s sleep problems have reached epidemic proportions, and may be the country’s number-one health problem.”

The National Commission on Sleep Disorders, as reported by CNN, believes the price tag for sleep deprivation in the workplace is $150 billion a year in higher stress and reduced workplace productivity. This is because, as The State Compensation Insurance Fund reports, that “sleep deprivation or fatigue affects a worker’s manual dexterity, reaction time and alertness.”

Sleep deprivation sets the stage for potential safety hazards and serious accident and costs employers money as well as often puts the public’s safety at risk and this in addition to the price individual employees pay as they struggle with the impact of a lack of sleep.

Fortunately, sleep deprivation has many possible solutions.

Suggestions for Employees

The individual employee must first determine if sleep deprivation is a problem. While difficulty sleeping and/or lack of sleep are often obvious, many sleep problems are not easily identified.

First, determine if you are getting enough sleep. The CDC reported that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night but most are actually getting less than 6 hours.

Then, if sleep appears to be a problem, look for ways to improve your sleep and to create patterns and conditions that promote healthy sleep. This includes maintaining a regular sleep/wake schedule, establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, avoiding or reducing caffeine and nicotine, and making sure your bed and pillows are comfortable.

Other suggestions including learning to leave stress at the office by writing the next day’s to do list before leaving work for the day and establishing a relaxation routine for the drive home.

The vast majority of sleep problems lie within an individual’s ability to control. Your “sleep hygiene” can significantly impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep, wake feeling refreshed, and remain alert throughout the day.

Be aware that there are sleep conditions that you cannot fix on your own, and know “When to Call a Doctor About Sleep Disorders.”

Suggestions for Employers

While the onus for getting enough sleep lies primarily with the individual, employers can promote the idea of adequate sleep by implementing ideas such as the following:

  • Promote regular rest by the amount of time off employees receive.
  • Provide regular rest breaks during the workday.
  • Avoid shift lengths, such as those often found in hospitals, that often add to the number of mental errors.
  • Avoid requiring work beyond a regular shift, especially if a worker is obviously tired.
  • Educate workers on the effects of inadequate sleep.

While employers are definitely limited in their impact on how much sleep employees get, they can still promote the importance of proper sleep as well as integrate information about sleep-deprivation into workplace safety programs.

The problem of sleep deprivation will not go away on its own. Employers and employees must take steps to promote the value of adequate sleep. Doing so, or not, will significantly impact our safety and well-being.

Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Caution - Safety Glasses RequiredIn order to prevent the over 25,000 eye injuries occurring each year, eye safety must be a daily priority in the workplace. To help in that prevention effort, Prevent Blindness America has declared March to be Workplace Eye Wellness Month as a way to reemphasize the importance of keeping eyes safe while at work.

To that end, let’s look at ways to promote eye wellness in the workplace and thus help reduce the number of eye injuries on the job.

  1. Wear proper eye protection. About 90% of eye injuries in the workplace can be prevented through the wearing of proper eye protection. Do this by first knowing what’s available and then by choosing the best option for your situation.
  2. Follow employer guidelines. OSHA requirements provide clear guidelines for employers, and Promoting Workplace Safety is essential to eye injury prevention. Yet, none of these guidelines and programs matter if individuals fail to follow them.
  3. Keep eye protection clean & clear. Make sure you have Good Habits for Safety Glass Maintenance to help ensure your eye protection is working optimally at all times.
  4. Give your eyes a break. Managing Electronic Display Eye Strain will go a long way in keeping eyes healthy and strong as well as prevent long-term and possibly permanent damage to eyes.
  5. Establish habits. While your employer may and hopefully does have a workplace eye safety program, the health of the eyes is ultimately up to the individual. For this reason, be sure to understand the Importance of Good Eye Safety Habits.

For those wanting to take eye wellness a step further, Prevent Blindness America offers several options including vision screening programs and educational resources.

While not all injuries in the workplace can be prevented, a lot can be done to greatly reduce not only the number of injuries sustained but also the severity of the injuries that do take place. If an eye injury does take place, promote a return to eye wellness by doing the following BEFORE you need to know what to do.

  1. Know what to do when an injury happens. We must all ask the question, “Do you know what to do?” when an eye injury occurs. Take steps to make sure the answer to that question is “Yes!” before you need to know.
  2. Understand the most common causes of injury. Knowing the Most Common Types of Eye Injuries can not only help prevent them, but it can also help in knowing what to do when they happen.

First and foremost, wear eye protection and wear the right eye protection to make sure eyes remain healthy while at work. After that, take steps to educate yourself. Learn the steps for preventing eye injury, and learn what to do when an eye injury happens. Taking these steps will help to ensure that workplace eye wellness is a way of life and not just a once-a-year focus.