Think of the hundreds of times you've completed a task at work without eye protection, injury free. Perhaps the application doesn’t seem that hazardous, or maybe the safety glasses you have are uncomfortable, scratched up, or they fog too easily. Plus, you’re good at what you do. You've been doing this job for so long that being careful is second nature.
Until that one time when "being careful" wasn’t enough. It wasn't your fault. In fact, you did everything right. Unfortunately, the tool you were using randomly failed, a coworker didn’t set up the workspace properly, a machine malfunctioned…whatever it was…IT happened.
Accidents happen every day, and usually, in situations you’ve become all-too-comfortable with.
300,000 workplace eye injuries send people to the emergency room each year nationwide. In most cases, safety eyewear is not being worn, it doesn’t fit, or doesn’t provide the appropriate protection for the application.
Of these 300,000 eye injuries, it’s estimated that 90% of them were preventable if the workers had been wearing (appropriate) eye protection.
That's 270,000 workplace injuries that could be avoided each year.
Consider these other eye-opening injury statistics:
- Eye injuries make up nearly 45% of all head injuries that lead to missed work days.
- Eye injuries account for an estimated annual $300 million in medical bills, compensation, and time off.
- Men ages 25-44 comprise 80% of all workplace eye injury victims.
- 40% of on-the-job eye injuries happen in the manufacturing, construction, and mining industries.
Considering these staggering stats, why aren't workers wearing their safety eyewear? Here are a few common reasons we’ve heard from customers:
- It's unwearable. Cheaply made safety eyewear becomes more of a distraction than a means of protection. Pressure, pinching and slipping points create an ergonomic nightmare for workers, and protective eyewear ends up on top of workers' heads or in their pockets instead of over their eyes.
- It's "unnecessary." Despite decades of reported eye injury experiences and how to prevent them, human ignorance and resistance are still big problems. Many workers think of eye protection as unnecessary and choose to not wear their required eye protection.
- It's fogging. In a recent study with manufacturing, construction, service, and retail workers, 100% of participants reported fogging as a major factor for not wearing their PPE on the job. They can't see with the fogged-up eyewear, so naturally, they take them off. In the same study, 55% said that if their safety eyewear had working anti-fogging technology, they'd comply with wearing it.
- It's uncool. Let's face it, sporting safety eyewear hasn't always been the most glamorous look. Everyone likes to wear things they feel good in, so it's no surprise that safety eyewear falls to the wayside for some.
Remember, the best eye protection is the protection that's worn.
This article was originally published on HexArmor blog, April 25, 2017.