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Contact Lenses And The Workplace

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  • Contact Lenses And The Workplace

    Now on to post 5001 and Beyond. This will be instalments one and two of what will be at least four posts regarding contact lenses. I know this has come up occasionally in various threads. In this case I’m not offering support for or against contact lenses, only bringing to light what has been pointed over my way.

    The information I present comes from the SafetyXchange, which is where I get a majority of my safety notices. And since there has been a lot of discussion regarding contact lenses and lasik surgery, I figured this was a good a time as any. Enjoy…


    Basic Safety Information You Need to Know, Part 1 of 4 By Duane Perkinson

    More than 32 million adult Americans wear contact lenses. Many of them are employees who wear their lenses at work in industrial settings. As an optician who specializes in contact lenses, I want to share my insights with the safety community on the dangers this poses. This series will discuss what the employee, employer and first responder should know about contact lenses in the workplace.

    This week, we'll look at the employee perspective. There's also a Model Form in Tools for employees to give their eye doctors that lists key visual information the doctor needs to know to prescribe appropriate lenses for the employee's particular work environment.
    Advancement of Contact Lenses

    Contact lens materials and designs have advanced a long way in the past 30 years. Today's contact lenses are cleaner, more comfortable and healthier.

    For example, disposable soft contact lenses can be replaced daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. Prescription options enhance the eye's muscle coordination and offer a wider field of vision. There are even bifocal contacts.

    Contact lenses can even be used cosmetically, for example, to change or enrich eye color. But it is important to remember that contact lenses are classified by the Food and Drug Administration as a medical device requiring a doctor's prescription.

    How the Workplace Affects Contact Lenses

    Where contact lens use is permitted in the industrial workplace, employees must be sure to inform their eye doctor that they plan to wear their lenses at work. That's because there are certain critical variables that may affect the doctor's final choice of a contact lens design. Besides the prescription itself, the variables associated with the employee's industrial environment include:

    • Dust and airborne debris levels;

    • Presence of vapours or gases; and

    • Exposures to chemicals.

    Based on the information supplied by the employee, the doctor's final choice of a contact lens may:

    • Include a larger diameter to protect the eye from debris; or

    • Consist of a plastic material that is more resilient to dirt and debris collecting upon the contact lens surface.

    Or, the doctor may determine that contact lenses are not appropriate for the industrial environment and advise against a prescription for such an application altogether.

    What to Tell Your Eye Doctor

    To help the doctor make an appropriate decision, employees should provide the doctor a summary of information about how they use their eyes during work activity. We've designed a document we call WIDE (short for "What I Do with my Eyes") to facilitate this communication. (SafetyXChange members can access a copy of the WeCare4Eyes' form in Tools.)

    In the summary, employees should explain to their eye doctor:

    • What the work environment is like;

    • The on-the-job visual demands it involves; and

    • The unique distances involved with the work activity (this information is especially vital for wearers of bifocals).


    Employees who wear contacts in industrial environments must understand the risks and potential hazards involved. Next week, we'll discuss how employees can care for their contact lenses in an industrial setting.

    Caring for Your Contact Lenses, Part 2 of 4 By Duane Perkinson

    Last week we discussed what employees should consider when deciding whether and what kinds of contact lenses to wear in an industrial workplace. This week, we'll look at how to care for the contact lenses after you get your prescription.

    The Four Materials You Need

    There are four things you need at the workplace to properly care for contact lenses.

    1. Lubricants

    Contact lenses dry-out during use. We blink less when we tire. This causes the lens to dry. Dust and debris in the workplace also contribute to the drying process.
    It's therefore necessary to use a contact lens lubricant to maintain the proper moistness level and maintain contact lens performance during the workday. It's important to use the right kind of lubricant. Long gone are the days when saliva could be used for lubrication. Drops designed for "getting the red" out of your eyes will permanently destroy a contact lens if used while the contacts are on the eye.

    2. Carrying Case

    In my experience, most contact lens loss or damage can be traced to the fact that no case was available. When filled with fresh solution, a carrying case provides the safest way to store a contact lens. A glass of water is not a safe or sterile alternative.

    3. Back-up Contact Lenses

    Contact lenses are generally uncomfortable when debris builds up on the lens surface, a rip or tear develops along the lens edge or a crack occurs in the body of the lens. A back-up contact lens allows the employee to replace the uncomfortable lens with a fresh one. If the eye is still uncomfortable or irritated, the employee should remove the contact lens and consult the eye doctor.

    4. Safety glasses

    What better way to continue your workday endeavours safely and comfortably than by using your safety glasses? They won't help you if they're at home on the dresser. The safety glasses prescription should also be up-to-date. If the prescription is over two-years-old, chances are you won't see as well as you should to perform your best on the job.


    To maintain proper eye health, employees must be sure to properly care for their contact lenses. And wearing non-prescription protective eyewear over the contacts is essential to guard against eye injuries. Next week, we'll look at what employers and first responders must know about contact lenses in the work environment.

    Contact Lenses and Welding

    With regard to the article on Contact Lenses & the Workplace, another risk not mentioned is to evaluate your risk to weld flash. Contact lenses can become adhered or welded to the eye when exposed to weld flash, even by inadvertent or glancing exposure. This will necessitate surgical intervention for removal.

    Author Biography - Duane Perkinson

    Duane Perkinson, in the course of 25 years private professional practice, specializes in both soft lens and rigid gas permeable contact lenses. His experience covers contacts of all types, including disposable, planned replacement, astigmatic, and bifocals. He has participated in numerous FDA studies of both contacts and related solutions. As an optician; Duane and his firm Vision Xperts provide on site safety eye care and prescription PPE. With over 30 years experience in the eye health care profession, Duane addresses VDT utilization, vision engineering, and corrective eyewear.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  • #2
    Summer Safety Recall Notice

    I've never heard of this, but then I don't get to spend a lot of time at or near the beach. The concept sounds like fun, but I can see the inherent dangers associated with this activity.


    Tube Kiting by Catherine Jones

    This latest form of summer fun is growing fast in popularity — and notoriety. Tube kites, inflatable watercraft hooked by tow rope to the back of a boat, allow tube riders to become airborne. As the boat approaches speeds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, the tube rider pulls back on the rope and the tube kite is lifted high into the air, soaring above the water. It's not hard to see the hazards.

    There have been at least two deaths associated with tube kiting and numerous serious injuries, including a broken neck, punctured lung, broken ribs, broken femur, chest and back injuries and facial injuries.

    According to the CPSC, some possible reasons for these incidents include:

    the tube is hard to control

    the tube's reaction is unpredictable in certain weather conditions (particularly wind gusts that spin the tube out of control)

    boat operator inexperience

    sudden slowing or stopping of the boat

    The new sport is now the subject of great public scrutiny and has already been banned in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the site of at least four serious incidents.

    A "Teak-It" to Ride—A Bad Idea on the Water

    Don’t hang ten in the danger zone By Ted Morrison

    Here's a new thrill to warn your employees against: "teak surfing." Teak surfing is the deadly practice of hanging by your fingertips from a boat and skimming along on the wake.

    As every safety professional knows, all gas and diesel engines produce deadly, invisible carbon monoxide. Boat engines build up fumes just above the wake, where teak surfers usually hang. They can quickly — and unknowingly — inhale deadly amounts of the poisonous gas. Due to the growing number of fatalities, some states have banned teak surfing and impose heavy fines on violators.

    Got a summer safety tip you'd like to share? Send them to [email protected] and let me know if we can use your name/company name.

    Contributor's Bio: Ted Morrison spent most of fifteen years in the military and in the trucking industry before returning to school to collect a diploma in professional writing. Now with Bongarde Media as writer and associate editor, Ted's time "in the trenches" helps him to write more effectively on the topic of occupational health and safety
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


    • #3

      Contact Lens Welding & Other Urban Legends

      Tuesday's newsletter included a Member Reply about the hazards of contact lenses exposed to welding flash. The reader had not supplied consent to use his name, so we ran it as Anonymous. We can tell you that the reader is well-known to us at SafetyXChange and has credentials galore. So we believed him. Unfortunately, it seems that even the most educated safety professional — and safety editors — can fall prey to an urban legend.

      Debunking the Legend

      As many of you pointed out, the welding flash cannot fuse contact lenses to the eye. One of you suggested that we quickly run a retraction: Done.

      One of you suggested that we publish an article on urban legends; Here it is.

      Thank you for all your responses and we apologize for the error.

      Catherine Jones SafetyXChange

      Feature Story URBAN LEGENDS:

      How to Recognize Them. By Barbara Manning Grimm

      A local dentist and his wife took their kids to Disneyland. They returned home, heartbroken, without their two children. The elder child had disappeared from a crowded area of the theme park. The parents, frantic in their search, left the younger child in care of a stranger. The stranger and this child also disappeared.

      Welcome to the Urban Legend

      When I was the editor of a daily newspaper, I heard this tale from caller after caller. After a while, I realized that no one knew the name of the family and no one had actually spoken to them. That's when I recognized the story for what it was — an urban legend.

      At the time, I had been reading work of Jan Harold Brunvand, who wrote a series of entertaining books about urban legends. Today, recording, investigating and debunking these urban legends has become a popular activity on the Internet.

      Two Kinds of Urban Legend

      An urban legend is a story that circulates as folklore in today's society. When researchers try to verify the story, they usually find no basis in fact to support it.

      Many urban legends are about supposed safety hazards. In some cases, the legend provides wrong or misleading information. Tuesday's note in SafetyXChange about the hazard posed by welding flash on contact lenses is a perfect example. No such hazard exists. Another popular form of urban legend, like the Disneyland example above, describes a particular incident that never actually occurred.

      Urban Legends and the Safety Profession

      Thanks in large part to the Internet, it's easier to identify items as the urban legends that they are. But as illustrated by what happened in Tuesday's SafetyXChange newsletter, some legends still manage to get past the scrutiny and find their way into mainstream and otherwise respectable information sources.

      During my career as a safety editor, I've seen that story about contact lenses printed by some pretty credible sources. A spokesperson for a national eye health organization also related it earnestly to me a few years ago. I'm not going to go into all the reasons this story couldn't be true; SafetyXChange readers have already covered that.

      The Bricklayer

      The contact lens myth is just one of many legends circulating in the safety field. The classic bricklayer story has appeared — as fact — in at least one safety publication:

      When a bricklayer finished a three-storey chimney, bricks remained on the roof. Having sent his assistant home, he decided to use a rope pulley to get the leftover bricks down by himself. He winched a metal bucket up to the roof, where he loaded it. He then climbed to the ground where he wrapped part of the rope around his hand and untied the end connected to a railing. Suddenly the weight of a falling bucket of bricks shot him upwards. In passing, the bucket broke his nose and shoulder. At the pulley he broke a few fingers. Meanwhile the bucket smashed and lost its load on the ground, then shot upwards as the bricklayer fell. This time it hit him in the groin. He broke both feet on the pile of bricks and let go of the rope. The bucket fell again and fractured his skull.

      How to Spot an Urban Legend

      So how can you spot an urban legend? Here are some signs that should set off bells and whistles:

      The story seems too good to be true.

      It has a twist at the end, possibly humorous or possibly horrible.

      The story makes a point — sometimes a moral one, other times about the things people most fear.

      You can't trace the origin of the story. The source is about a nice couple in the next town, a brother-in-law's cousin or some guy on the third shift at the other mill.

      To identify the story (or hazard) as an urban legend:

      Do a Google search with keywords from the story plus the terms myth or legend.

      Look in urbanlegends.about.com

      Visit: http://www.snopes.com

      [Editor's Note: In the case of the contact lens misinformation, one reader wrote: “It took less than two minutes to check with the CCOHS website to find the correct answer to the question: “Can you wear contact lenses when welding?”]


      Safety legends are entertaining and mostly harmless, but they can cause you to get worried about the wrong hazards instead of concentrating on the real dangers.

      M27 Note: A great number of you folks are pretty good about sniffing out whats "real" or not.



      Have you been taken by an urban legend? Send your stories to [email protected] and let me know if we can use your name/company name.


      True stories of experiences trainers wish they could forget

      Our training room was being painted so we had new employee orientation, including safety topics, in a room used by our computer staff. We did not know that there was a bad dip in the hallway floor leading to the area. One of our new employees tripped at the dip and broke his leg. Thus, he had a workers' comp claim before he even got to his assigned office.

      *M27 note: "Beware the Dip in the Road...."
      Name withheld by request
      If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

      "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

      "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

      Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

      impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

      IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


      • #4
        You must enjoy Mythbusters,too.THAT'S the job I want.They get to blow stuff up and do things that other Californians would get arrested for,not that I'd ever want to move there.
        I don't especially care for contact lenses.I never liked sticking things into my eyes which,I am told,means that I have a strong gag relflex as well.I'll stick to wearing glasses and dealing with blurred vision when I take them off and put them on the doghouse inside the rig when packing up.


        • #5
          AMEN to that one Brother, on all counts!
          If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

          "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

          "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

          Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

          impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

          IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


          • #6

            What Employers Should Know, Part 3 of 4

            By Duane Perkinson

            In the first two parts of this series, we discussed from the employee's perspective the safety issues that arise when contact lenses are worn in an industrial setting and how to care for lenses. This week, we'll look at what employers need to know about employee use of contact lenses in the workplace.

            Know the Regulations

            There's only one OSHA standard that specifically addresses the wearing of contact lenses in an industrial workplace. This standard recommends against contact lens use when working with acrylonitrile, dibromo, chloropropane, ethylene oxide, ethylene chloride and ethylene dianiline chemicals.

            Editor's Note: In Canada, there are six jurisdictions with legislation on wearing contact lenses in the workplace: Federal, PEI, Ontario, BC, Yukon and NWT. In the remaining provinces, contact lens use would be encompassed under the so called "general duty" clause of the OHS laws, which requires employers to safeguard employees against known risks.

            Develop a Contact Lens Policy

            To address situations specific to your workplace, I strongly recommend creating a contact lens policy.

            Your first step should be to assess the requirements for protective eyewear by reviewing the work environments in accordance with OSHA 29 CRF 1910.132 (d).

            Next, you should conduct your own hazard assessment. (SafetyXChange members can download my company's hazard assessment form from Tools.)

            Three Danger Signs

            When preparing your hazard assessment, these three questions will help you determine if contact lenses are inappropriate for any given area in an industrial environment:

            Does this area already have a documented history of eye injuries and thus pose a potential hazard to the contact lens wearer? Note that chemical splashes currently account for 20% and flying debris 70% of eye injuries.

            Does wearing contact lenses place the eye at greater risk of eye injury?

            Do contact lenses conflict with any existing safety requirement or strategy?

            What Your Policy Should Say

            Once you have identified that contact lens usage is appropriate for your workplace, be sure your company's contact lens policy:

            Sets out which, if any, areas of your workplace where the use of contact lenses by employees and visitors is prohibited and restricted;

            Requires employees who wear contact lenses to have the four kinds of support materials as detailed in last week's article: lubricant, carrying case, back up contact and safety glasses;

            Requires employees to fill out the form WIDE (What I Do with my Eyes) (available to SafetyXChange members in Tools) to ensure that their doctor has the information necessary to provide (or deny) an appropriate contact lens prescription;

            Requires employees to clearly indicate on their personal identifications if they are wearing contact lenses.


            Employers who permit contact lens usage should have a clear and concise contact lens policy in force to guide their business operations and employees. Next week, in the conclusion of this series, we'll look at what first responders should know about contact lenses in the workplace.

            **WIDE: www.safetyxchange.org/tool.php?id=60&cha_id=2

            THIS DAY IN HISTORY July 25, 1956

            Failure to follow procedure capsizes liner. By Catherine Jones

            One of the most famous maritime disasters occurred 50 years ago today – the collision of the SS Stockholm and the SS Andrea Doria.

            At 11 pm on July 25, 1956, on the final evening of its transatlantic cruise, the SS Andrea Doria — Italy's largest, fastest and safest ship — was carrying its 1,134 passengers and 572 crewmembers to New York. Captain Piero Calamai navigated the liner through thick fog, a familiar condition in the waters off the coast of Nantucket. As procedure demanded, he reduced speed (slightly), closed the watertight doors and activated the ship's fog warning whistle.

            Meanwhile, the Swedish-American liner, the SS Stockholm,was just beginning its journey from New York to Sweden and had not yet entered the fog bank.

            On a Collision Course

            Guided only by radar, the two ships steamed toward each other — each one aware of the other's presence, but neither establishing radio communication. Because the ships were in different weather conditions, the Stockholm did not realize that the other ship was a passenger liner and mistook it for either a small fishing boat or another small vessel.

            There was also some confusion about each ship's course. The Stockholm, intending to widen the passing distance between the two, steered 20 degrees starboard. The Andrea Doria, not following standard "rules of the road," steered port. Rather than widening the passing distance, the ships were on a collision course.

            The Collision

            When the ships collided, the Stockholm's ice-breaking prow sliced open the starboard side of the Andrea Doria, ramming 40 feet through three cabin decks. Forty-six Andrea Doria passengers and five Stockholm crewmembers were killed in the collision.

            Many of the Andrea Doria's watertight containers were breached and damaged fuel tanks began to fill with seawater. The ship's list was at least 18 degrees within minutes of the collision.

            The liner carried enough lifeboats to accommodate all passengers and crew. Unfortunately, the list rendered half of those lifeboats useless. And the remaining lifeboats could not be accessed easily or safely; they had to first be lowered to the water before being boarded by the passengers, who had to find a safe way down the exterior of the ship before they could board the lifeboats.

            Fortunately, numerous ships of all sizes responded to the distress call and by daybreak the Andrea Doria was evacuated. At 10:09 am, she capsized and sank.

            The Aftermath

            The investigation determined that while heavy fog was the main cause of the accident, the failure to follow proper radar procedures and "rules of the road, "among other things, were also contributing factors. As a result of the collision, it became mandatory for shipping lines to provide training on the use of radar equipment and approaching ships to establish radio contact with each other.
            Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 07-25-2006, 08:57 AM.
            If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

            "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

            "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

            Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

            impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

            IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


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