Protecting Vision in the Workplace

Originally posted by Sandy Smith on February 10, 2015 on ehstoday.com.

The use of digital devices, including personal computers, tablets and cell phones, continues to increase. The impact of prolonged usage often can be felt in the eye.

According to a report from the Vision Council, extended use of these devices have caused as many as 70 percent of American adults to experience some form of digital eyestrain.

"By protecting our eyes at work and at home, we can help stay healthy and productive for years to come," said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness.

Prevent Blindness, the nation's oldest volunteer eye health and safety group, provides employers and employees with free information on topics ranging from eyestrain to industrial eye safety in order to promote eye health at work. The group even has declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month.

Steps You Can Take

Employers and office workers can take a few simple steps to help prevent eyestrain and fatigue from digital devices. Prevent Blindness suggests:

  • Visit an eye doctor for a dilated eye exam to make sure you 
 are seeing clearly and to detect any potential vision issues.
  • Place your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a 
 little bit below eye level.
  • Use a document holder placed next to your computer screen. 
 It should be close enough that you don't have to swing your head back and forth or constantly change your eye focus.
  • Adjust the text size on the screen to a comfortable level.
  • Change your lighting to lower glare and harsh reflections. 
 Glare filters over your computer screen can also help.
  • Use a chair you can adjust.
  • Choose screens that can tilt and swivel. A keyboard that you 
can adjust also is helpful.

And the Vision Council recommends the 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.

Prevent Blindness strongly recommends the use of eye protection in the workplace, especially in industries such as construction, manufacturing or any profession where eye accidents and injuries may occur.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2012, there were 20,300 recorded occupational eye injuries that resulted in days away from work.

The organization offers two workplace programs:

The Healthy Eyes Educational Series (http://www.preventblindness.org/healthy-eyes-educational-series) is a free program that provides user-friendly, downloadable modules to conduct formal presentations or informal one-on-one sessions, including one titled "Work Safety." Each module includes a presentation guide and corresponding PowerPoint presentation on a relevant eye health topic such as adult eye disorders, eye anatomy, healthy living, low vision and various safety topics. Fact sheets can be downloaded at any time from the Prevent Blindness web site for use as handouts to accompany the presentation.

Prevent Blindness also offers Eye2Eye (http://www.eye2eyeprogram.com), a web-based educational resource that trains employees to communicate the importance of eye health and safety to each other, increases eye safety compliance and builds a stronger culture of safety in the workplace. The program features a peer-based, interactive curriculum and community-oriented forum enabling end users to share their learnings and best practices with each other.

Eye Injuries in the Workplace 
More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day. About one in 10 injuries require one or more missed workdays for recovery. Of the total number of work-related injuries, 10-20 percent will cause temporary or permanent vision loss. Experts believe that the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90 percent of eye injuries. The common causes of eye injuries in the workplace are:

  • Flying objects (bits of metal, glass)
  • Chemicals
  • Tools
  • Harmful radiation
  • Particles
  • Any combination of these or other hazards

3 Ways to Prevent Eye Injuries

  1. Know the eye safety dangers at work by completing an eye hazard assessment.
  2. Use engineering and administrative controls to eliminate hazards before employees start work. Use machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls, create policies that require 100 percent compliance with eye safety protective equipment use.
  3. Use proper eye protection.

Tips to Avoid the Scariest Place Of All

Originally Posted on Oct 23, 2014 by Sandy Smith on www.ehstoday.com.

Each year, 9.2 million babies, children and teens are injured severely enough to need treatment in emergency departments all across America, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Nothing is scarier than a trip to the emergency room,” said Mark Cichon, DO, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Loyola University Health System. “In a season devoted to frights, it is our goal to keep everyone safe.”

Here are Dr. Cichon's top tips to avoid going bump in the night and for a healthy, happy Halloween:

Invest in a pumpkin carving kit and avoid knives. “Manipulating a sharp knife in a rigid pumpkin rind without injury is almost impossible for an adult or child,” said Cichon, a professor at Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University. “Proper tools make sure you carve the jack o’ lantern and not yourself or a loved one.”

Supervise anything that is burning, from scented candles to carved pumpkins to firepits. “Fires can happen in a flash and get quickly out of control,” said Cichon. “The colder temperatures invite the warm glow of candles to the excitement of an end-of-season bonfire. Watch out for burning leaf piles.”

Use extra precaution when climbing ladders to hang decorations inside and outside. “Falls from ladders are one of the top reasons adults come to the emergency room and they are largely avoidable,” said Cichon. “Use the right-sized ladder, and one that is safe, and work with a partner to do the job right.”

Make sure Halloween costumes offer visibility and ease of movement. “Masks, hats, wigs, glasses, hoods – costumes often include headgear that can obstruct vision and lead to trips and falls,” Cichon cautioned. “And make sure it is easy to walk in the costume without tripping or catching on things.”

Dress for the weather. “It is easy to get overheated or too cold at this time of year, without the addition of wearing a costume,” Cichon pointed out. “Check skin temperature and watch for signs such as shivering or lethargy. Don’t forget to wear waterproof footgear that has treads for sure footing.”

Make sure your group is visible to motorists. Have one adult in the trick-or-treating group wear a reflective safety vest and give each child a glow stick or flashlight to increase visibility. “You want to be able to see where you are going and also for others to see you, especially around moving vehicles,” said Cichon. Stay in a group and put kids on the buddy system.

Avoid alcohol use when supervising children. “Don’t drink and accompany your kids as they trick-or-treat,” said Cichon. “If you choose, enjoy a beer or cocktail at the end of the night after kids are safely indoors, or better yet, in bed.”

Avoid over-tiring children. “Fatigue can lower resistance, leading to illness and injury,” warned Cichon. Make sure a good night’s sleep starts Halloween day and rest up before the night's activities. Eat healthy meals and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Maintain regular bedtimes.

Inspect treats when you get home. “Make sure candy and goodies are age-appropriate; avoid smaller pieces for younger children that could be a choking hazard,” said Cichon. And, if your child has food allergies such as a peanut allergy, remember to remove that candy from the bag.

Balance candy consumption with healthy foods. “When my four children were younger, my wife and I would hide their candy and allow them each to choose two pieces after dinner to limit over-consumption,” remembered Cichon.

Be aware of the potential for loud and scary noises. “Playful scaring antics by enthusiastic celebrants and even barking dogs can frighten children and cause them to react suddenly,” Cichon warned. “Falling down porch stairs, tripping over curbs and even colliding with others can result in harm.”

Drive vehicles slowly and cautiously on Halloween, especially on sidestreets. “Watch for trick-or-treaters but also be aware of any flying eggs or other debris that could impede vision,” Cichon cautioned.


Nearly Half of Critical Illness Insurance Claims begin prior to Age 55

Just under half (47%) of new critical illness insurance claims in 2011 began prior to age 55 according to the 2012 Buyer & Claimant Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and General Re Life Corporation.  This marks a significant increase in claims by younger policyholders compared to the prior year’s analysis.

The percentage of claims that occurred before age 45 grew compared to 2010.  Some 13 percent of male policyholders and 12 percent of female policyholders who received benefits were younger than 45 according to the data from 10 leading critical illness insurers.  “The increase in younger claimants is likely due to an increase in younger buyers of this relatively new form of insurance coverage,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the recently formed critical illness insurance trade group.  “With higher health insurance deductibles and more restrictive plans, critical illness insurance is starting to gain traction among buyers in their 30s and 40s.”

The study found a pronounced year-to-year increase in the number of claims paid to policyholders between ages 35 and 44.  Some 8 percent of new claims by men and 10 percent women occurred at these ages in 2011, versus four percent reported by the prior year’s study.   The greatest decline in claims occurred after age 55.

The study revealed that cancer remains the leading cause for new individual claims accounting for 61 percent of new claims.  Heart attacks accounted for 11 percent and stroke for 18 percent of new claims.

Researchers analyzed data for over 57,000 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies as well as claims reported by leading insurers for the time period January 1 to December 31, 2011. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.  Free access to the organization's online learning, marketing and sales center is offered to insurance and financial professionals.  For further information, visit the Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

American Association for Critical Illness Insurance study conducted by General Re Life Corporation, 2012