Summer’s end does not end the danger to your eyes posed by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Today we look at why you’re still at risk, and how to protect yourself and your employees.
Labor Day marks the passing of another summer. Time to put away your bathing suit, water skis, golf clubs, and those sporty Nantucket red shorts that look so good on you. But don’t go packing away those sunglasses just yet.
While it’s true that the sun is lower on the horizon and shines for less of the day as we head into autumn and winter, it still packs plenty of potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can damage your skin – and your eyes.
UV radiation consists of invisible rays from the sun. The All About Vision website explains that the three bands of UV light are UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC rays are of little concern as they are absorbed by the upper atmosphere and do not reach the earth’s surface.
UVB rays are the ones that burn the skin and can damage the eyes. UVA radiation has lower energy, but may also cause injury. Prevent Blindness America says that UV radiation can play a role in such eye disorders as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, pterygium (a growth in the white part of the eye), and photokeratitis (essentially a sunburn of the cornea).
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Scientists measure UV levels on a scale of 1 to 11 (with 11 being the most dangerous) using the UV Index. UV radiation is highest during the summer months but it continues at potentially dangerous levels into early autumn, and the reflective properties of water and snow can pose UV dangers even in winter.
UV Index maps produced by EPA show September UV levels in the United States ranging from a low of about 1 or 2 along the Canadian border to a high of 8 to 9 in the Southwest and southern Florida.
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends wearing sunglasses on bright days even when the UV Index is as low as 0-2. The Society also recommends that sunglasses be worn on moderate (3-5) UV Index days if you are going to be outside for 30 minutes or more. Wearing sunglasses is a given on higher UV Index days.
The ability of sunglasses to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of their lenses or their price tag, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. In selecting sunglasses, the Foundation recommends:
–Always choose sunglasses that are labeled as blocking 99%-100% of UV rays. Some manufacturers’ labels say “UV absorption up to 400nm” (that’s the same thing as 100% UV absorption).
–Ensure they block enough light. Sunglasses should screen out 75%-90% of visible light. To find out if a pair is dark enough, try on the glasses in front of a mirror. If you can see your eyes easily through the lenses, they probably are too light.
–Check lenses for quality. Look for a uniform tint, not darker in one area than in another.
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Everyone is at risk of UV-related eye and skin disorders, but higher risks are faced by people who work or spend a lot of time outdoors, and people who live at higher elevations or near the equator.
UV radiation is just one of many dangers to your employees’ eyesight. Safety Meeting Repros from BLR notes that some eye injury risks include:
–Flying objects like wood, metal, and stone chips
–Splashes of chemicals or other dangerous liquids
–Fumes, vapors, and dust that can irritate the eyes
–Ultraviolet rays from such operations as welding
Safety Meeting Repros’ eye protection section features a two-part safety meeting outline, with Part I focusing on the various kinds of hazards to eyes and the different types of eye protection. Part II focuses on the proper fit and care of eye protection.
Eye protection is just one of Safety Meeting Repros’ 50 completely turnkey safety meeting modules, each responsive to a key OSHA regulation, with trainee materials in reproducible form. Just check off the outline items as you proceed through the meeting and you won’t miss a single point of importance. Then follow up with the fully prepared quiz (with instantly available answers) and illustrated handouts that also come with each lesson. You’ve completed a full training cycle, with little more work than running a copier, at a cost equivalent of under $6 a session.
We don’t think you can appreciate how much this program can ease your training task without looking it over. We invite you to do so at no cost (we’ll even pay any return shipping) and no risk. Here’s how you can arrange a trial run, at our expense.