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Why Does Eye Safety Matter?

Posted on 6/26/2015 9:38 AM by Bob Risk

Our eyesight is an extremely valuable asset, yet employees often do not take the necessary steps to protect their eyes in the workplace. Even though modern eye protection is easier to use, more comfortable, and fashionable than ever before, more than 1,000 workplace eye injuries are reported every day. These injuries cost U.S. companies more than $300 million dollars per year, according to OSHA.

Eye injuries can happen suddenly, and some professions are more at risk than others. Of the 1,000 reported injuries mentioned above, injuries in manufacturing facilities account for almost 50%. Construction workers, plumbers, electricians and pipefitters also top the list for being most likely to suffer from eye injuries.

As a result, OSHA requires all employers to provide safety glasses for their workers in hazardous environments. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, three out of every five workplace injuries happen to employees who are not wearing eye protection. Clearly there is a disconnect between the amount of eye safety products available to workers and those workers who actually use eye protection. In fact, 70% of reported injuries were caused by flying particles and 20% were the result of splashes or contact with chemicals. The rest of the reported injuries were caused by swinging objects like tree branches, ropes, or chains, where the worker was unprotected or inadequately protected.

Workplaces should make a conscious effort to encourage at-risk workers to pay heed to eye safety. The good news is, it’s now easier than ever to provide the best protection possible to your employees, while also being mindful of their specific needs and preferences. Today’s safety glasses come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles, and are available with prescription or reader lenses. Various coatings provide anti-fogging, anti-static, scratch protecting, and polarized qualities, while shading provides protection from sunlight, welding, UV and infrared light, or the glare from halogen or fluorescent fixtures. Additionally, certain eye protection lenses can improve an employee’s visibility in low-light environments. 

With a vast array of available safety glasses and goggles, eye protection is easier and more comfortable than ever before. Here’s what you can do to encourage use in your facility:

  • Talk to employees. It’s important start and continue a dialogue with workers on the importance of wearing proper eye protection, as well as understanding what their specific preferences are based on their daily tasks.
  • Provide options. Provide workers with more options to encourage use. The CDC recommends selecting eye safety equipment based upon the nature and extent of the hazard, types of possible exposure, additional protective equipment used, and the user’s specific needs. Options include different styles, colors, shapes, lenses and sizes.
  • Continue educating. This process doesn’t stop with simply providing options for workers based on their preferences, but it’s a matter of encouraging use for prolonged periods. This can be done with regular trainings and conversations, as well as signage throughout the facility that encourages proper use.
  • Offer positive reinforcement. Instead of fining or punishing employees for not properly wearing eye protection, create individual or team contests or competitions that promote the use of eyewear and practicing correct eye protection. You can also offer prizes to the winners. This is far less costly than eye injuries and helps to create a culture that soon becomes habit.

Eye injuries can cause permanent damage, so it’s vitally important to provide occupants with protection from potential injuries, starting with wearing appropriate eye protection. 

Bob Risk is the National Sales Manager, Safety, for Staples.

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How to Capitalize on the Sustainable Corporate Campus Movement

Posted on 6/23/2015 9:22 AM by Zach Gentry

Apple has announced plans to build the world’s greenest building, Uber has launched an initiative to make theirs the smartest corporate headquarters on the planet and Google has committed to making renewable energy a reality in its more than 3.1 million square feet of office space. As shown by some of the leading innovators in the technology industry, the corporate world is increasing its emphasis on sustainability in the physical buildings that they inhabit; which points to an evolving environmental mindset across the enterprise.  We are entering an era in which more and more companies are beginning to understand that their buildings can, and should be, an expression of their overall sustainability plan and ethos.

While most companies can’t take on green building efforts on the same scale as industry giants like Google and Apple, this increase in initiatives with clear-cut and tangible objectives dictates that businesses can also no longer rely solely on energy use metrics or other outdated reporting systems to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. Instead, many companies are now turning to new energy management technologies and building automation solutions as a way of introducing sustainability initiatives to their own facilities, and capitalizing on the growing sustainability corporate movement.

Financial Initiatives

One of the factors helping to drive this trend is the expansion of federal, state and even private financing initiatives, which encourage organizations to install clean tech and energy management solutions by offering tax credits or other incentives. As an example, Apple made headlines in February by signing an $848 million agreement to buy energy from First Solar. Solar power purchasing agreements (SPPAs) like this allow an organization to buy energy directly from a solar electricity generator at a fixed low rate, thereby reducing the company’s carbon footprint and energy costs simultaneously. It also provides an opportunity for organizations to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by helping to support clean energy providers. 

Future-Proof Retrofits

On average, lighting accounts for more than a third of buildings’ energy use, and can be much higher for the more than two million commercial facilities estimated to be using lighting systems installed prior to the 1980s. While a relatively simple facilities retrofit can help to cut wasteful energy consumption, failing to also consider future efficiency standards can end up costing companies more than forgoing the retrofit altogether in the first place. Title 24 of California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, for instance, has resulted in a range of new requirements for lighting systems, many of which go beyond simply replacing the existing infrastructure with high efficiency bulbs. Part of the legislation states that now even LEDs are required to have 10%-100% continuous light level dimming capacity, and these rules extend to a variety of other lighting installations as well. Without investing the effort to properly prepare their facilities for future efficiency requirements, companies’ savings from a simple retrofit will quickly be lost in the need to update the building’s systems again a few years down the line.

Intelligent Buildings

With mass integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technology within both residential and commercial environments, there are now more opportunities than ever to tap connected devices and sensors as a means to manage energy expenditures through enhanced data collection and analysis. By utilizing connected sensors in conjunction with a central building management system (BMS) for example, organizations are able to achieve measurable impacts on efficiency through improved use of office space and resources, and the automatic adjustment of environmental features like lighting and climate in response to occupancy, levels of daylight and other factors. Furthermore, facility engineers and property managers are able to examine data collected from these devices to help plan for future building needs. The information can be used to compare the building’s trends in energy consumption to predict future use, or examine current inefficiencies in the office design to create a more effective building layout as a company grows.

While Apple, Google and other leaders in the technology industry may have initiated the trend towards sustainability within their buildings, the movement has begun to take hold across the enterprise. As more companies make the effort to adapt their own buildings to capitalize on this movement, new energy management solutions will no doubt continue to spread and become an integral point of consideration within the modern corporate campus.

Zach Gentry is vice president of business development for Enlighted

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