Hi. My name is Ron Langley. I’m with the Department of Labor and industries here in Washington State. I’m sitting here in the Tacoma Dome, the world’s largest freestanding wooden structure. To help you visualize what might otherwise be a dry statistic, according to the US Department of Labor, enough people in the United States suffer eye injuries at work each and every month of the year to fill this entire arena past its seating capacity. And if that’s a depressing statistic, here’s a related one. Ninety percent of those injuries would have been prevented just by the use of proper eyewear. There are dozens of things in every workplace that pose hazards to our eyes, those most fragile exposed parts of our bodies. Sparks, chemicals, flying particles, and a significant number of trips to the emergency room every year are caused by splinters in the eye. The effect of those hazards can be demonstrated by a common tool and one that’s a common source of injuries: the stapler. An injury like that would probably have been prevented just by wearing ordinary glasses. However ordinary eyeglasses aren’t really an effective form of eye protection as this person discovered while operating a powered lawn edger. Nail guns, for example, are causing more and more workplace injuries with every passing year. Regular eyeglasses simply aren’t designed to protect eyes from sharp high-impact objects. To demonstrate, we put a pair of regular eyeglasses on our friend Yorick. Not only did the glasses fail to protect his eyes, the lenses themselves created their own hazard when they shattered. It’s also common to see people depending on sunglasses for eye protection. Again, not only inadequate as protection, but adding to the hazard when hit with an object. And, even some of those things we think are safe, glasses don’t protect our eyes like they should. A pretty high price to pay for some company’s decision to sell shoddy imitations. To put it simply if they don’t have the ANSI and Z-87 stamp on them, don’t gamble your precious eyesight on them. Sometimes you have to look closely to see it, but it’s worth your effort to find the stamp. It’s also important to note that these have side shields. Many injuries to people wearing regular glasses came from the side. So, let’s see how well ANSI rated safety glasses hold up to a nail gun. Note ,off to the right, the muzzle of the nail gun it’s at point-blank range. Quite an impact but not an eye injury, and with a different pair of ANSI rated glasses see that dimple. What a difference from regular glasses or from the so called safety glasses that weren’t ANSI rated. And, a third pair of ANSI rated glasses and a third success. It’s pretty impressive, but what’s even more impressive, some of these glasses cost less than seven bucks. Not much more than most of us can find in the cushions of our living room furniture! Seems like a pretty simple choice doesn’t it? 7 bucks for something that will protect our eyes from a 16 penny nail fired at close range. Compare that to others. Regular glasses won’t protect youm neither will sunglasses, or the fake safety glasses that only give you a false sense of protection. It really is an easy choice when you know what to look for. But, I was curious just how good are these safety glasses. So, I asked John Crossman, shooting coach instructor with the National Rifle Association to help me out. Ouch. That was quite an impact and poor Yorick! At first it didn’t look like the bullet went through the glasses. But what happened was the lens material closed back up as soon as the bullet went through it. The important lesson of course is that a pair of safety glasses by themselves won’t protect against all the hazards in the workplace. It’s important to choose the right kind of eye protection. Handling chemicals using a grinder, or a lathe, or welding you’ll want more appropriate eye protection. But for the majority of workplace situations, just a simple pair of ANSI approved safety glasses will keep your very precious and very vulnerable eyesight protected. And, it’s important to remember that there is no substitute for practicing safety at all times. Let me return to that statistic: 90% of workplace eye injuries would have been prevented simply by wearing proper eye protection. That would have emptied all of these seats in the Tacoma Dome and still left two to three thousand more in these seats over here again, each and every month of the year. But it’s worth asking would we still have that many eye injuries if, just by the act of putting on eye protection, people were more aware of eye hazards and unsafe practices where they work. Then, maybe we could, month after month, keep these seats just as empty as they are now. Because injuries are about more than some temporary pain, medical bills, and some days off from work. They are about people losing part or all of their ability to enjoy the beauty we’re surrounded by, and often take for granted every day. It’s about being unable to fully enjoy those things that used to make our lives so enjoyable.