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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Eye injury prevention in industry. The identification of eye injury problems and the status of preventitive programs: a planning study Schmidt, Brian Thomas


A study was undertaken to examine the major eye injury problems in industry, to determine the hazards that caused them, and to develop methods for improving industrial eye protection programs so as to reduce the incidence of eye injuries. The study was conducted in Alberta through the Occupational Health and Safety Division of Alberta Labour and the Alberta Workers' Compensation Board. A review of literature was performed to determine the status of eye protection programs, current epidemiological investigations and modes of protection, and to search for historical, legislative and cost benefit information. The project consisted of seven studies which were designed and carried out independently but, together, would provide a wide perspective concerning eye protection in industry. These studies were: a) A Review of W.C.B. Statistical Master File Data - which was concerned with a cumulative review of every eye injury claim received by the Workers' Compensation Board over the years 1974, 1975 and 1976. This included a review of Permanent disability claims, claims for lost work time and claims where only medical aid was required. b) A Review of Selected W.C.B. Personal Medical Files - which was concerned with the detailed review of eye injury claims from fifteen high eye injury risk industry classes. Each medical file was examined individually, paying particular attention to prevention-oriented information. c) A Survey of Occupational Health and Safety Officers - where thirty-one occupational health and safety officers (inspection personnel) were given an in-depth interview to obtain their perceptions and informed opinions on the nature of eye injury hazards, compliance factors, and the status of eye protection programs in industry. d) A Survey of Occupational Health and Safety Personnel - where questionnaires were sent to over six hundred persons in Alberta, identified as being involved in the provision of occupational health and safety services in industry. This included physicians, nurses, safety personnel, and persons in government. Questions were similar to those in Section c. e) A Review of the Minutes of Selected Joint Work Site Committees in Alberta - where the minutes of selected meetings concerning health and safety on the work site between management, the worker, and government, were analyzed to determine the extent of the unsolicited concern for eye injury prevention in companies which were known to have incurred a large number of eye injuries. f) A Review of Anecdotal Data - where several interviews were held with union and management representatives to determine the concern and need for eye injury prevention, and the development of eye protection programs at a policy level in industry. The comments and concerns of many other persons were also considered. g) A Review of Selected Site Visits to Industries in Alberta -where the researcher made six plant visits to better understand the conditions which lead to eye injuries and the problems in implementing preventive programs. It was found that industries involved in the manufacture or use of metal products, chemicals or construction materials were at high risk. More specifically, however, it was determined that certain occupational groups such as machinists, plumbers and pipefitters, welders, and mechanics were also at high eye injury risk. It was concluded that occupational classification and eye injury hazards should be treated as a basis to eye injury prevention. Injuries were found generally to occur most frequently among the young and inexperienced workers, while grinding and welding operations were found to be the most prevalent source of injury. Injuries occurred most often at certain times of the day, and there was some question of the effects of boredom and fatigue. It was found that there is a lack of knowledge and education concerning standards of eye protection and in the proper selection of the protector for the hazard. The physical strength of the protector was minor, however, in comparison to the need for better protector design and fitting of the device to the face of the worker. It was concluded that companies must be encouraged to develop eye protection policies as a basis to the provision of eye protection programs. A plan was recommended for the improvement of eye protection programs in industry. This included the presentation of a comprehensive eye protection program formulated through a review of literature on the subject, and the elucidation of a system of occupational vision care involving the interaction of all groups concerned with eye injury prevention in industry.

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