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Techniques in Training – 20 Minutes of Blindness = A Lifetime Worth of Lessons

- September 1, 2016 by Philip Bivens, CSP (View all posts by Philip)

Most people take for granted having two functional eyes, but most have never experienced what life would be like without their vision. On a recent car ride, I wore safety glasses that had been covered with black paint. The purpose of the glasses was to simulate what it would feel like to not have vision. It was a daunting reminder that we rely on our eyes to provide for ourselves and our families. 

As a new hire at ICW Group, my manager wanted to show me one of his proven training techniques to emphasize eye safety. I sat in the back seat of the vehicle, while my manager and another coworker were in front. As soon as the car started moving, I began to feel scared and uncomfortable. I never realized before how much I anticipated the movements of the vehicle by adjusting my body to curves, stops, bumps, etc. With my vision gone, I was not able to see what was coming up and my body felt like it was uncontrollably being moved. 

Since I wasn’t able to see the people in the front of the car, I felt like I was not an active part of the conversation. They also seemed like they were further away. Nonverbal communication is a huge part of human interaction, but I couldn’t rely on that either. 

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), each day about 2000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. Common workplace eye injuries include metal objects, wood chips, dust, cement chips, chemical burns and infectious diseases. Protecting your vision is not just a case of wearing safety glasses while at work. Many people have lost or damaged their vision away from work due to a number of causes: welding, mowing/trimming, shooting, illness, sports, etc.

If you use the blindness simulation technique at your next safety meeting, ask your staff to take a few minutes to think about the five most important things or people they look at each day. Then think about how different life would be if they couldn’t see those things or people. Ask them,

“Who would take care of you?” 

“What burden would that put on them?”

“What are the things you would miss doing?”

Start today by protecting your vision at all times and the vision of those around you.