Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe that if workers were wearing the right protective eyewear they can lessen the severity or even prevent 90 percent of these eye injuries.
Increase in eye injuries at work
Foreign objects in the eye and cuts or scrapes on the cornea are common eye injuries that occur at work. Other common eye injuries come from splashes with grease and oil, burns from steam, ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure, and flying wood or metal chips.
Workers experience eye injuries from not wearing the right protective eyewear for two major reasons:
- They were not wearing eye protection.
- They were wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. These workers most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation.
Personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses or full face respirators must be used when an eye hazard exists. The necessary eye protection you require depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used and your individual vision needs.
What are the potential eye hazards at work?
Workplace eye protection is needed when the following potential eye hazards are present:
Projectiles (dust, concrete, metal, wood and other particles)
Chemicals (splashes and fumes)
Radiation (especially visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, and lasers)
These potential eye hazards are common in occupations with a high risk for eye injuries including:
- Auto repair
- Electrical work
How can I protect my eyes from injury?
There are four things you can do to protect your eyes from injury:
- Know the eye safety dangers at your work.
- Eliminate hazards before starting work by using machine guards, work screens or other engineering controls.
- Use protective eyewear.
- Keep your safety eyewear in good condition and have it replaced if it becomes damaged.
Although safety glasses may look like normal dress eyewear, they are designed to provide significantly more eye protection. The lenses and frames are much stronger than regular eyeglasses. Wrap-around lens made from impact resistant materials offer true protection from direct and peripheral threats like wood chips, dust or flying particles.
Safety glasses should be adaptable for both indoor and outdoor use so it becomes easier to see cut-lines, colors and other details without optical distortion.
Lastly your protective eyewear must fit properly to provide adequate protection and must be properly maintained. Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents. The latest top brands offer both anti-scratch and anti-fog combined with grips to ensure minimal accidents.
So if you work in any of these industries and are thinking about getting the right protective eyewear, ensure that you have a protection that meets all these criteria. Except no limitations as you only get one set of eyes!