Eye injuries occur in the workplace thousands of times each year, resulting in more than $300 million per year in lost time, medical expenses and workers’ compensation costs. Your eyes can be very easy to damage, but wearing eye protection is a simple way to keep them safe.
What Causes Eye Injuries?
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that almost 70% of the accidents they studied resulted from flying objects or sparks striking the eye.
- Injured workers estimate that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pin head
- Most of the particles were said to be traveling faster than a hand-thrown object when the accident occurred.
- Contact with chemicals caused one-fifth of injuries.
- Other accidents were caused by objects swinging from a fixed or attached position, like tree limbs, ropes, chains or tools.
- Never try to remove a foreign object, other than a contact lens, from your own eye.
- If a chemical solution accidentally splashes in the eye, flush it out with cool water for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Get medical assistance right away.
What To Do If You Get Something In Your Eye:
Protecting Your Eyes
OSHA is very clear about the rules they’ve established as minimum standards for both employers and employees regarding eye protection:
“The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquids, chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”
There are three main things to do to help prevent an eye injury:
- Know the eye safety dangers at work.
- Eliminate hazards before starting work (ex: use machine guarding). .
- Use proper eye protection.
The type of eye protection needed depends on the hazards in your workplace and should be compliant with OSHA regulations for eye and face protection. Employees must be provided with eye and face protection when machines or operations present potential eye or face injury from physical, chemical or radiation agents.
Two main types of eye protection include:
- Safety glasses provide protection from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids, caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors and light radiation.
- Face shields are intended to protect the entire face from impact hazards such as flying objects, large chips and particles. In no instance should they be used as a substitute for properly designed primary eye protection (glasses or goggles) that meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1: “Face shields are secondary protectors and shall be used only with primary protectors.”
Selecting the right equipment
- Make sure the safety glasses or face shield are comfortable to wear, do not restrict vision or movement, are durable, and easy to clean and disinfect.
- Employees requiring prescription lenses should use safety prescription lenses or eye protection worn over their regular glasses or contacts.