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Alberta marks NAOSH Week with launch of eye safety program

By COS staff
| www.cos-mag.com

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind has launched the Industrial Eye Safety Program in Alberta in conjunction with the observance of the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week being held across the continent from May 3 to 8.

Alberta is the second province to launch the CNIB Industrial Eye Safety Program. The program was first launched in British Columbia. The CNIB says the program is expected to become available nationwide within the next year.

The CNIB Industrial Eye Safety Program is a new initiative to educate workers about eye safety in the workplace and motivate them to follow safe work practices, by focusing on the consequences associated with eye injuries. The 90-minute workshops use a combination of real-life stories, shocking visuals and interactive exercises and are delivered by a facilitator with vision loss.

CNIB’s lead workshop facilitator Barry Weatherall, who lost his vision from a workplace sulphuric acid explosion 10 years ago, will be part of the launch event in Edmonton on Monday.

Between 2004 and 2008, over 5,000 eye injury claims passed through the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board, costing almost $10 million. In 2006, eye injures accounted for 3.1 per cent of all lost-time claims in the province, according to data from the Alberta WCB. Over 90 per cent of workplace eye injuries are preventable with appropriate use of properly fitted safety eyewear.

The CNIB’s Industrial Eye Safety Program was developed as a result of a penalty issued to an employer in 2007, who failed to adhere to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations on a worksite.

“Alternative sentencing is all about keeping workers safe or helping injured workers,” said Hector Goudreau, minister of Employment and Immigration. “Our emphasis is always on preventing workplace injuries or illness in the future.”

Revenue generated from the workshops will be used to fund critical vision rehabilitation programs at CNIB.

The eye safety program is sponsored by the Alberta Association of Optometrists, Work Safe Alberta, WCB Alberta, the British Columbia Association of Optometrists, the Construction Safety Association of BC and WorkSafeBC.

While the program has only launched in Alberta and B.C., the CNIB says individual requests for holding the workshops outside these two provinces are possible.

For more information about the program or to book a workshop, contact Samira Hussain at 604-431-2031 or samira.hussain@cnib.ca.

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