The gradual influx of technology into our lives over the past twenty years is for most of us most obviously present in the workplace. Technology adds another workplace dimension of needed safety; although technology is not the only arena we should take precautions in the workplace to protect our eyes. Here are several ways to protect our eyes in the workplace:
- Ensure that workstations are OSHA compliant. Workers who work around open flame, chemicals, fumes or projectiles should be provided eye protection and be required to wear them in the work area at all times. In such areas, eyewash stations should also be provided throughout and routinely maintained.
- Eliminate CRT monitors. LCD screens are much easier on eyes then CRTs.
- Educate employees on healthy distances from screens. Employees should keep the screens of their computers, tablets and smartphones at a minimum distance of 12 inches from their eyes. Consider reminders such as labels and signage in the workplace.
- Encourage employees to take short, frequent breaks. Ideally, workers should look away from their screens every 20 minutes. While that length of time may not be practical, providing break stations throughout the workplace with coffee, water and tea encourages employees to takes breaks from their screens.
- Make sure that your workplace has appropriate lighting. No matter what type of work your employees do, they need an appropriate level of light in which to work. Lighting levels that are too low can contribute to eyestrain.
- Provide employees with ergonomically correct workspaces. When computers, chairs and desks are all at appropriate heights and angles, employees won’t be tempted to get too close to their screens (or engage in any other cubicle acrobatics that can cause work-related injuries).
- Provide support to employees to quit smoking. If you have employees that smoke, limit their smoking to a few areas far enough away from non-smokers so second-hand smoke won’t affect others. Offer discounts and wellness incentive to employees to quit smoking, since smokers are more likely to develop complications of the eye, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Provide vision benefits. The most common way to do this is to make sure your health insurer offers vision coverage, but this is not the only method. You can also offer employees membership in vision-only insurance plans that help to make bi-annual eye doctor appointment affordable. If you offer a wellness fair at your workplace, consider providing vision screening, so employees can see if there might be issues in their vision without even leaving work. You can also coordinate with eyewear businesses to offer your employees discounts on polarized sunglasses and eyeglasses.