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CompBenefits Puts Priority on Vision Safety;
Company Salutes Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month


Atlanta, Georgia - March 9, 2007 - According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), as many as 2,000 people in the U.S. incur work-related eye injuries each day with 10 to 20 percent of those injuries resulting in temporary or permanent vision loss. In an effort to increase awareness about the importance of eye safety in the workplace, PBA has designated March as Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month

In its most recent Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that eye injuries account for more than $467 million a year in lost production time, medical expenses, worker compensation and other worksite costs. The report showed that jobs with the highest eye injury rates were in manufacturing or production, followed by installation, maintenance and repair, and construction. Men accounted for 80 percent of the eye injury total, and those aged 25-34 reported the most eye injuries. Many of these injuries occurred after being struck by an object or after rubbing the eye once debris had entered it.

The good news is that experts estimate that 90 percent of all work-related eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the proper safety eyewear.

"Workplace eye health and eye safety are important issues for both workers and employers. Promoting healthy vision and safety programs is good for business. Employees with access to comprehensive vision care and who practice strict safety habits on the job contribute to higher productivity, lower absenteeism and increased sense of well being," says Dr. Howard J. Braverman, president of the vision division of CompBenefits.

Dr. Braverman noted that while The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers ensure the safety of all employees in the work environment and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to workers including providing eye and face protection whenever necessary, it takes more than just meeting those standards to preserve healthy vision and prevent injury.

Dr. Braverman recommends that employers consider the following suggestions when establishing an eye safety plan and risk management program in your workplace:
  • Establish the vision requirements of the job.Provide a vision examination of each worker to determine if they meet the requirements. Undetected and/or uncorrected vision problems can lead to accidents and reduce productivity.
  • Consider including routine eye and physical examinations in your pre-placement requirements of your employees.
  • Perform a thorough examination of the workplace, inspecting work areas, equipment and any chemical substances. Assess the potential eye hazards of the job and determine the use of appropriate protective eyewear.
  • Enforce eye safety regulations every day and utilize on-going employee communications to reinforce your company's commitment to eye safety across the organization.
  • Make sure that safety eyewear has an "ANSI Z87" marked on the frame or lens.
  • Know that contact lenses and glasses are NOT substitutes for protective eyewear.
Dr. Braverman also suggests that employees:
  • Have regular eye exams to make sure their vision is adequate to do their jobs safely and insure good vision health.
  • Ask their employers if prescription glasses or goggles can be provided, if they already need corrective vision wear.
  • Know the nearest eye wash station is at their job site and how to use it.
  • Ensure that protective eyewear fits properly and comfortably. If your eyewear is unsatisfactory, let your employer know that you would like to have it fitted by an eye care professional or someone trained to do so.
  • Notify your employer immediately if any safety hazards are discovered.
  • Know that contact lenses and glasses are NOT substitutes for protective eyewear.
"Whether your job involves being on a job site or production line or working behind a desk, your vision is one of your most valuable assets and you need to protect it," said Dr. Braverman.

In the service sector, Dr. Braverman recommends that office workers:

  • Arrange desktops so that your computer screen is 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes and a little below eye level to ease neck strain and avoid dry eyes.
  • Remove glare and harsh reflections from lighting.
  • Take breaks and rest your eyes to reduce eye fatigue.
  • Use eye drops to keep eyes lubricated, if necessary and remember to blink often.
  • If you notice changes in your vision acuity, see your eye care provider to make sure your eyes are healthy.
Says Braverman, "As more and more jobs move into the service sector, it is important that people who work with computers for long periods of time recognize changes in their vision and create more eye-friendly workspaces."

About CompBenefits
CompBenefits Corporation, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, provides dental and vision benefit plans to over 4.8 million members in 31 states. CompBenefits offers a diversified portfolio of products designed to fulfill the oral health and eye health benefit needs of public and private sector employer groups, government-sponsored plans, health plans, and individuals. For more information, visit the company's website at: www.compbenefits.com.

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