Although workplace eye injuries could lead to chemical burns or blindness, 85 percent of industrial workers report seeing others not wear eye protection when necessary, according to a survey by Kimberly-Clark Professional.
"This high rate of noncompliance seriously jeopardizes worker health and safety,” says Valona Renner-Thomas, product manager, eye and face protection of Kimberly-Clark Professional. “In many instances, uncomfortable eyewear or fogged lenses could be responsible. 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."
Under a mandate by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers must provide eye and face protection; however, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly three out of five injured workers weren't wearing eye protection or were simply wearing the wrong type when an accident occurred.
While 80 percent of respondents say they would encourage a co-worker or employee to wear eye protection when not in compliance, 22 percent of respondents even report that they would report the employee or try to stop dangerous work operations until the worker met compliance standards. In fact, respondents rank eyewear as the top personal protective equipment protocol.
To improve compliance, 56 percent of respondents cite providing more comfortable eyewear with features such as flexible, comfortable nose pieces, and 51 percent of respondents say they have been required to wear uncomfortable eyewear or eyewear they did not like. Among these respondents, 46 percent say they ended up purchasing their owner eyewear, and 45 percent say they used the eyewear regardless.
Twenty-two percent of respondents say fog-free lenses would help improve compliance as another 88 percent of respondents say fogged lenses have caused job interference. Even 40 percent of respondents say this has happened on multiple occasions.
The survey also finds that only 25 percent of respondents report that their organizations encourage employees bring their protective eyewear home, although 84 percent of respondents say they would possibly use their eye protection away from work as their daily sunglasses if they were comfortable, fit well and provided UV protection.