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Safeguarding employees’ vision saves working days and improves profit

New statistics by WorkSafe BC reveal that more thaninjury claims. Eye injury claims are also costly to $6.4 million was paid out in 2005 for workplace eyeBC industries in terms of lost profits and working days.

This concerns BC optometrist Dr. Don Vinge, chair of the Occupational Vision Plan, who says investing in proper safety eyewear should be a ‘no-brainer’ for any business. “Eye injuries are costly considering post-incident recovery and care, never mind the emotional and human loss when a person loses their sight. A pair of safety glasses can cost between $150 and $275, depending on whether or not prescription lenses are needed,” says Dr. Vinge.

Developed by the British Columbia Association of Optometrists, the Occupational Vision Plan is a province-wide network of approximately 270 optometrists providing eye care and prescription safety eyewear to BC workplaces. And the latest WorkSafe BC figures suggest BC companies need to pay more attention to eye safety.

In 2005, 1,990 eye injury claims were accepted for short-term or long-term benefits. The statistics were collected from various industries across the province. In total, 18,910 working days were lost.

General construction was the industry with the second highest number of eye injury claims for the year . “Most eye injuries at the workplace can be prevented by taking simple safety precautions and wearing safety glasses or goggles,” Dr. Vinge says.

Wearing safety eyewear isn’t just good business sense, it’s the law. British Columbia’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, administered by WorkSafe BC, states that: “a worker must wear properly fitting safety eyewear appropriate to the conditions of the workplace if handling or exposed to materials which are likely to injure or irritate the eyes.” Dr. Vinge says it’s important to remember that different types of safety glasses are needed for different occupations and recommends that businesses and employees consult with an optometrist before choosing safety glasses. Optometrists can provide insight as to what best protects the eyes when working in different environments or with specific hazardous materials.

The Occupational Vision Plan optometrists provide comprehensive eye examinations, professional consultation and individually tailored programs to help employees work safely and effectively.

For more information on eye health, or to locate an OVP optometrist, visit the website for the Canadian Association of Optometrists, www.opto.ca. Under “Workplace” there is a link to Occupational Vision Plan.

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