Our eyes are one of our greatest assets. They give us the ability to see the world around us. If we do not protect our eyes from injuries while at work, we could easily lose that ability. There are an estimated 2,000 eye injuries every single day on the job according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These incidents cost employers over $300 million dollars per year. It is important to eliminate or engineer out the hazards that could pose hazards to our eyes at work. Many hazards to our eyes on a worksite cannot be fully eliminated so proper eye protection is also critical.
Common Hazards that Cause Eye Injuries on the Job
- Flying dust
- Flying debris
- Blunt trauma to the eye
- Burns due to ultraviolet exposure, such as welder’s flash
- Electrical injuries can be more extensive than they appear—so treat even a slight burn seriously, as it may belie internal damage.
Best Practices to Avoid Injuries to the Eyes
- Identify all of the potential eye hazards in your work area and for your specific work tasks. Ensure there are proper safeguards in place to prevent an eye injury. If there is a safeguard missing, stop the work task and correct the problem.
- Eliminate or lessen the chance of getting something into your eye by avoiding being in the line of fire. One quick example is standing upwind of debris or dust blowing around the work area.
- Wear approved safety glasses, face shield, or goggles when needed. The type of Personal Protective Equipment needed will depend on the work task. Three out of every five victims of eye injuries on the job were not wearing any eye protection.
- Wear proper eye protection If there are welding activities going on and ensure there is a protective barrier in place to protect other employees in the area from ultraviolet light exposure.
- Do not rub or scratch if you get something in your eye. Rubbing the eye can cause scratching of the cornea resulting in injury. Find an eyewash station or saline bottle to rinse out the object.
- Remove your contacts if there are any chemicals in you eyes and begin to rinse your eyes out.
- Wear safety glasses, per Quandel’s safety rules, whenever using power tools such as a drill, circular saw, power hammer, etc.
- Wear a face shield when using a cut-off saw or angle grinder.
A word about the Importance of Sunglasses
The American Optometric Association says you should always don sunglasses during the daylight hours because they protect your eyes against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which could otherwise lead to cataracts. They protect against “blue light” from the solar spectrum, which could increase your risk of muscular degeneration.
What are Safety Glasses?
Safety glasses must have impact resistance and side protection.
All safety eye and face wear must have the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) marking on them to show that they have the impact resistance required
Source: Safety Tip of the Week – Eye Safety – Safety Matters Weekly. safetymattersweekly.com/safety-tip-of-the-week-eye-safety-2. Accessed 27 Oct. 2022.
Source: “Health Tip: Why Wear Sunglasses?” MedicineNet, 11 Feb. 2013, www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=167712.