The ability to see and maintain ocular health can often be taken for granted, but as one of the body’s primary senses, vision deserves protection and care. Maintaining ocular health involves the examination and assessment of all of the structures in and around the eyes to determine overall health and diagnose eye disease. Within Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility, employees rely on their sight to avoid dangers, detect potential risks and perform daily tasks. Taking care of the eyes should be a priority just like eating healthy and physical activity.
According to PSNS & IMF’s Occupational Safety and Health Manual Volume II, Chapter 8, employees are required to wear appropriate eye-protective equipment when working in eye-hazard areas or while performing eye-hazardous operations such as machining parts, handling chemicals, using power tools, working on pressurized systems and performing overhead work. Personal eye and face-protective devices can go a long way but may also be used in conjunction with machine guards, engineering controls, and rigorous manufacturing and personal safety practices. Protecting employees’ vision is something the shipyard takes seriously, and a robust eye-protection program is in place. Bob Neal, Code 106.22, Environment, Safety and Health Programs Office, industrial hygiene program manager, offers the following on eye wellness at PSNS & IMF:
• The most significant risk to eye health in the shipyard is employees not wearing safety eyewear where required based on the presence of a hazard or signage. Eye injuries are one of the most preventable injuries. However, employees not wearing safety eyewear is the most reported personal protective equipment deficiency to code 106 every month.
• Most injuries to the eyes for employees in the shipyard involve foreign bodies from work that occurs. In addition, Code 106 has had reports of foreign bodies to the eyes as a result of employees taking off their eye and face protection incorrectly. It is recommended that employees practice the “shipyard bow”. This is when an individual closes their eyes, bends over and removes eye and face protection, preventing debris that may have accumulated on their body or PPE from falling directly into the eyes.
• If a point-of-use station is out of safety eyewear, employees can obtain a pair from the various logistics and kitting sites located throughout the shipyard.
As part of PSNS & IMF’s mandatory training, eye wellness and protection are addressed. For more information on the shipyard’s eye protection program, visit the PSNS & IMF directives library or visit the Code 106 SharePoint page. Employees can also reach out to their shop or code’s safety advocate who can assist with answering questions, conducting sight assessments of worksites, and assist with alternative safety eyewear. Additionally, the optometrist at the shipyard branch clinic can answer questions and provide assistance with prescription safety eyewear.
There are also ways to help maintain ocular health outside of the work environment. Some actions include:
• Get regular comprehensive dilated eye exams.
• Know your family’s eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since some are hereditary.
• Eat right to protect your sight. In particular, eat plenty of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, and fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home, such as painting, yard work, and home repairs.
• Quit smoking.
• Wear sunglasses that block 99 percent-100 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.
• Wash your hands before taking out contacts and cleanse your contact lenses properly to avoid infection.