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Eyewear that doesn't fit can lead to workplace injuries

The makeup of today's workforce is rapidly changing, both in terms of gender and ethnicity. The increased diversity of today's workers has led to a serious safety issue. In that past, the workforce was relatively homogeneous. That meant that most workers had the same facial structure and Pennsylvania employers could order standard eye wear that would fit almost everyone. Now, though, workers with different genders and ethnic backgrounds have different facial structures. That means that protective eye wear doesn't fit as tightly as it should in many cases.

Gaps between the eye wear and the skin provide openings for debris to sneak in. Even the smallest grain of dirt or rock can be enough to cause a serious workplace injury. In fact, about 90 percent of eye injuries can be avoided with proper fitting protective eye gear.

Employers can take a few steps to reduce the risk. First, they can order eye gear that has some customization when it comes to fitting. A flexible nose bridge can help the worker achieve a tighter fit. Adjustable headbands can also improve fit. More importantly, though, managers should be trained on eye gear fit and how important it is. They can cut down on injuries if they know how to recognize poor-fitting eye gear and if they have the resources to address the problem. When a manager assumes that all eye gear fits all workers, that assumption can lead to injuries.

Workers have a right to necessary safety equipment. A worker who sustains an eye injury while on the job may miss work and may require costly and time-consuming medical treatment. Workers' compensation benefits may be available to help cover those expenses.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "Improving Safety Eyewear Fit for Better Protection and Compliance", David Iannelli, Feb. 1, 2014

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