As we ring in a fresh year it’s normal to think about what we can do to make next year better than the last. For thousands of years people have made New Year’s resolutions – to change for the better or to accomplish a personal goal. If you are looking for a 2020 resolution here are the top 6 to help improve eye safety for you and your employees.
Conduct an Eye Safety Audit at your Workplace
A basic eye safety audit is simple to complete and goes a long way to ensuring everyone’s eye safety and eye health in 2020. In its simplest form an eye safety audit involves an assessment of the current eye safety program, a review of workplace hazards, and plan to implement any action needed to make improvements.
The assessment will include a careful review of your current policies and processes.
- Is the right safety eyewear available to all people when they need it? Are people wearing their eye protection?
- Are people aware of the risks and are they taking action to protect themselves.
- Is there an emergency plan to mitigate losses in the event of an eye injury incident?
- Review the hazards present in the workplace with a focus on hazards such as projectiles, chemicals, radiation, and biohazards.
- Consider the gaps between what you have in place and what is needed to provide adequate protection from the hazards identified.
- Re-launch your eye safety program with a series of toolbox talks focusing on eye safety and provide follow-up training on proper safety eyewear use. Eyesafe can help clients with these talks. Just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Circle back once more and do a quality check to see that your recommended improvements have been implemented.
Aim for 20-20-20
The amount of screen time continues to grow, whether looking at our phones, computers screens, or the multitude of other electronic devices. Whether this screen time is necessary for work or for leisure, eyestrain can be an unexpected outcome. Symptoms of eye strain include blurred vision, headaches, burning eyes, mental fatigue, head pain, back pain, and increased sensitivity to light. Factors that may increase your risk of computer eyestrain include, the length of time focusing on a screen, this includes checking your smartphone or any other communication device, and the distance maintained between your eyes and the screen.
As a part of any eye health program computer eye strain is something to manage. Giving your eyes regular breaks will help minimize fatigue. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break by looking at something at 20 feet away (or more). This forces you to adjust the focal distance of your sight, which allows some muscle groups to relax while others are forced to re-engage. Following the 20-20-20 plan can help reduce the risk of eye strain.
Wear your sunglasses
Sunglasses protect your eyes from outdoor UV exposure. UV rays can harm your eyes in the winter as easily as in the summer. In fact during the winter, although the UV index may be somewhat lower, reflection from the snow and icy surfaces can result in increased total UV exposure levels.
Proper sunglasses are effective in blocking as much as 99% of UVA and UVB rays. A range of eyewear is available to provide protection whether it is a simple pair of sunglasses or a UV protective lens for your safety eyewear or ski goggles. Find the right equipment that fits well and wear it whenever you are outdoors.
Learn your family eye history
Many diseases of the eye have a genetic connection. Conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy have been shown to run in the family. Knowing your family eye history can be helpful to your optometrist in catching any signs or symptoms of disease early when they are easiest to treat. Knowing your family eye history allows for more accurate benchmarking of your vision and eye health, which allows your optometrist to measure and keep track of often small but significant changes.
Eat Well for Healthy Eyes and Good Vision
General health is linked to eye health. Eating right is the key to good health and with eye health as your goal in 2020 this includes ensuring a proper balance of nutrients including vitamins A, C and D, Omega-3 fatty acids and appropriate amounts of anti-oxidants. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is the key. Good general health is linked to reduced levels of age-related macular degeneration, cataract formation and glaucoma. Eat well and enjoy good health including eye health. For healthy eye recipes, go to: optometrists.ab.ca/patients.
Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Many common eye diseases have no early signs or symptoms. During a comprehensive eye exam your optometrist examines the tissues and structures inside the eye, looking for diseases. They are also looking for early signs of serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease during an exam. The very best defense is to see your optometrist a minimum of every two years and every year once you reach 65. Regular eye exams at any age allow for benchmarking of your vision and eye health which allows your optometrist to measure.
As we head into 2020, now is the time to resolve to take eye safety and eye health seriously. Make your resolution to ensure a healthier you and that includes your eye health.
Glyn Jones is a partner at EHS Partnerships Ltd. in Calgary. He is a consulting occupational health and safety professional with 30 years of experience. He is a regular safety conference speaker in Canada, and he provides program design and instructional support to the University of New Brunswick’s OHS certificate and diploma programs.