Protecting Your Eyes
 March 21, 2011

Injuries to the eyes are often permanent. That’s why employers need to remain vigilant in protecting their employees from eye injuries. Researchers believe that each day over 2,000 people suffer eye injuries at work. Your employees have only one pair of eyes. Help them take care of them.

Workplace Eye Injuries
The workplace is a leading cause of eye trauma, loss of vision, disability, and blindness. Of the 2,000 employees who sustain a job-related eye injury daily, the good news is that most of these injuries are minor and only 10 to 20 percent of those eye injuries will result in temporary or permanent loss of vision. Most experts believe that proper eye protection could have reduced the severity of or
prevented the injury in more than 90 percent of these cases.

Eye injuries can range from minor burns, cuts, and abrasion to total blindness. Key sources of injury are:

  • Welding equipment, as well as other power tools and machinery. These elements create the largest exposure to injury.
  • Chemicals such as acids and adhesives are also a concern. They can splash into the eyes and cause serious damage.
  • Particulate matter from hammering or grinding which can easily fly into unprotected eyes.

Wear Proper Eye Protection
The first step to preventing any injury in the workplace is to be aware of the hazards. If possible, eliminate those hazards or reduce them by using proper eye protection. There’s a wide variety of safety eyewear including safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, and full-face respirators. Employers should choose which one best protects workers from the particularhazards in a specific workplace. Don’t shortcut, make sure the eye protection fits the exposure.

In the event of an eye injury, employees need to know where the eye wash fountain is so they can clean their eyes as a first-aid measure as quickly as possible. But, get medical treatment as soon as possible after first-aid. Your safety training should include first aid for eye injuries for everyone.

Employees should have their eyes examined on a regular basis to ensure their vision is good enough to do their job safely. And, always make using personal protective equipment (PPE) a posted safety requirement to protect their eyes.

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