U.S. Workers Risk Eye Injuries by Not Wearing Required Protection

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On-the-job eye injuries can have devastating consequences, but despite these potential hazards, 85 percent of industrial workers in a Kimberly-Clark Professional survey released today said they had observed others  failing to wear eye protection when they should have been.

"This high rate of noncompliance seriously jeopardizes worker health and safety. In many instances uncomfortable eyewear or fogged lenses could be responsible," says Valona Renner-Thomas, product manager, Eye and Face Protection, Kimberly-Clark Professional. "The results are very disconcerting when you consider that 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear. Enhancing eyewear practices is critical to creating exceptional workplaces—those that are safe, healthy and productive for all employees." 

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide eye and face protection to guard against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants or hazards. Yet, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that nearly 3 out of 5 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. 

The importance of eye protection was evident to survey participants. Eighty percent said they would encourage a co-worker or employee to wear eye protection if he or she were not in compliance, and 22 percent said they would report the employee to a supervisor or find a way to halt dangerous work operations until the worker complied with personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols.

In addition, eyewear came in first when respondents were asked to rank the most important PPE category for on-the-job safety. It was also deemed the "most challenging" PPE category in terms of compliance, which leads to the question: how can compliance be improved? Greater comfort and fog-free lenses could help, according to the survey results. When asked what would most improve compliance with eye protection protocols, the top choice was more comfortable eyewear—with features like flexible, comfortable nose pieces (56 percent) followed by fog-free lenses (22 percent).       

Fifty-one percent of respondents also reported having been forced to wear uncomfortable eyewear or eyewear they did not like while at work. Of these, 46 percent wound up purchasing their own eye protection, while 45 percent said they "used it anyway."

Fogging was also a problem on the job, with 88 percent of respondents saying they or someone they worked with had been unable to see or complete a task properly because of fogged lenses. Forty percent of respondents said this had happened on "numerous occasions."                   

Source: Kimberly-Clark Professional                                                 

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