Tradies Safety Awareness Month

In the know: Local optometrist Josie Mills. Photograph supplied



SAFETY awareness is very important in all trades and walks of life, but some struggle.

Twenty-five to 30 per cent of people who walk into Specsavers Optometrist Traralgon are tradespeople who have come in with work-related injuries that could cost them their sight.

“We do have a lot of people who walk in with lovely bits of metal in their eye after a bit of grinding at least once a day. So we always have that conversation with them about protection,” said Traralgon Specsavers optometrist, Josie Mills.

“Some do have the little excuses like ‘the goggles fog up’ or they can’t quite see properly, or they have some of the self-tinting work goggles that aren’t tinting right, causing them to get burns on their eye.”

Ms Mills said that the most common age group to come into the clinic with these injuries tend to be the under 25s.

Most eye injuries are permanent; if not, some go from perfect vision to glasses in just one mishap.

According to a report from Specsavers, 89 per cent of 40-year-old tradespeople would tell their younger selves to be more cautious in the workplace.

There are also reports of 37 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds that already have workplace injuries to the eye that needed medical attention, and 53 per cent that said that their hearing got worse over time.

The report also mentions that 26 per cent of tradespeople take a ‘she’ll be right’ approach, only occasionally wearing goggles, and 70 per cent do not always wear hearing protection.

“Taking small precautions can help protect you for years to come. These preventative measures can make a world of difference and save you from experiencing a decline in your eyesight or hearing, which are both pivotal to your quality of life,” said Ms Mills.

In another response to eye and ear safety, The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital has recorded a substantial increase in men presenting to the Emergency Department with work-related eye trauma.

The 41 per cent growth over the past five years likely indicates a lack of awareness or adherence to eye safety procedures.

Ms Mills urged younger tradies that are doing their apprenticeship to take it seriously and make sure they start good habits when they begin their trade.

Also that they make sure they have good eye and ear protection so that they don’t accumulate problems faster than normal.

Further advice from the report includes wearing hearing protection in unavoidable exposed areas; wear safety goggles to protect debris from getting in your eyes, large coverage sunglasses when in the sun; complete the one-metre test for equipment (stand one metre away from someone and if you have to yell over the machine, the job requires protection); regularly get tested; and reduce the number of noises to one at a time.

Most larger companies have safety officers to help keep everyone safe, but for small companies it is harder to enforce protective measures in staff.

Ms Mills said that for those just starting, get them into the good habits of wearing protection, as it then becomes automatic.

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