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White Card Australia: Focus on Eye Safety The lack of eye safety on worksites has come under attack as new research highlights the risks of not utilising the appropriate eye protective equipment. Due to the extremely delicate nature of the eye, a seemingly minor incident can result in a major injury, so it is important to protect your eyes. The research carried out by a division of The University of Melbourne has honed in on the negligence of workers and employers who failed to ensure the proper eyewear was used when conducting dangerous tasks. Over 55% of the patients examined as part of the research had not been wearing safety eyewear at the time and many patients had suffered with eye injuries before. According to a report byWorkplaceOHS.com.au: Research prompts call for renewed focus on eye safety The importance of utilising adequate safety eyewear — both in the workplace and during ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) activities at home — has been highlighted by new research into the causes of eye injuries. The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), an affiliate of the University of Melbourne, studied 100 patients who attended the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Emergency Department over a two-month period in 2009 for treatment of eye damage caused by metal fragments. Such injuries can result in corneal scarring and permanent visual impairment, as well as infection. The researchers, led by Professor Rasik Vajpayee, found that: The injuries were commonly caused by high-velocity impact machining, such as metal grinding, welding, repair work and drilling. More than one-half of the patients (55%) had not been wearing safety glasses at the time of their accident. Twenty-five patients had suffered a previous eye injury caused by metal fragments, yet more than half of those were not wearing eye protection at the time of their most recent injury. Source : http://www.workplaceohs.com.au/NewsDetail.asp?ID=30258

A worrying fact is that workers had not learnt their lesson the first time round and had continued to endanger their eyes even after serious injury. Employers are also guilty of negligence, as they should not only have strict rules in place, but ensure that they are enforced. Just having OHS Documentation is not enough, employers need

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to be vigilant and supervise workers at all times, ensuring that workers are not breaching safety procedures. Other than non-compliance the issue of eyewear design was also raised by the study. It found that eyewear was not manufactured to fit and protect the eyes adequately enough. The article by WorkplaceOHS .com.au goes on to state: Professor Vajpayee said that the research had raised two distinct safety concerns. ‘[First, there is] low compliance in terms of use of safety apparatus when undertaking high-risk machining activities,’ he said. ‘This [finding highlights] the importance of looking into whether these injuries are due to the attitude of the individuals, lack of appropriate safety apparatus, individuals not being adequately trained in occupational safety or workplace management issues such as the company not complying with safety standards.’ ‘[The] second issue is the design of the safety eyewear, as 45% of the injuries occurred while some form of eye protection was worn.’ ‘The failure of the safety eyewear may have been due to the presence of gaps between the eyewear and the subject’s face, the pattern of particle emission, or the alignment of the work operation.’ Victoria spends $36m on work eye injuries each year The Emergency Department director, Dr Carmel Crock, said the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital sees hundreds of patients with metal corneal foreign bodies each year. ‘The majority of these patients are young males who can end up with scars on the cornea,’ Crock said. ‘These are highly preventable injuries with appropriate safety eyewear.’ ‘It is important to note that these injuries are happening both in the workplace and also during “Do it yourself” activities at home. We cannot stress enough the importance of using adequate safety eyewear in preventing these injuries.’ Source: http://www.workplaceohs.com.au/NewsDetail.asp?ID=30258

The report also included an estimate of the cost to the community each year, which amounted to $39m. This involves approximately 3500 emergencies according to CERA.

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Any activity which involves hazardous substances or airborne particles is potentially dangerous to your eyes and so requires the proper protective eyewear. It is important that workers follow safety procedures with regard to eye protection whether engaging in high risk work or simply DIY at home. For more information on eye safety visit The Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Eye_safety_at_work?open addthis_url = 'http%3A%2F%2Fwww.whitecardaustralia.com.au%2Fwhite-card-news%2Fwhitecard-australia-focus-on-eye-safety%2F'; addthis_title = 'White+Card+Australia%3A+Focus+on+Eye+Safety'; addthis_pub = '';

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White Card Australia: Focus on Eye Safety