EYE PROTECTION IN THE WORKPLACE
Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day. About 1 in 10 injuries require one or more missed workdays to recover from. Of the total amount of work-related injuries, 10-20 % will cause temporary or permanent vision loss. Experts believe that the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of eye injuries in accidents.
The financial cost of these injuries is enormous — more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and workers compensation. No dollar figure can adequately reflect the personal toll these accidents take on the injured workers.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF EYE INJURIES?
- Flying objects (bits of metal, glass)
- Harmful radiation
- Any combination of these or other hazards
WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO EYE INJURIES AT WORK?
— Not wearing eye protection. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident.
— Wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job.— About 40% of the injured workers were wearing some form of eye protection when the accident occurred. These workers were most likely to be wearing protective eyeglasses with no side shields, though injuries among employees wearing full-cup or flat-fold side shields occurred, as well.
WHAT CAUSES EYE INJURIES?
— Flying particles. BLS found that almost 70% of the accidents studied resulted from flying or falling objects or sparks striking the eye. Injured workers estimated 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 the injuries.
— — Other accidents were caused by objects swinging from a fixed or attached position, like tree limbs, ropes, chains, or tools which were pulled into the eye while the worker was using them.
What is my best defense against an eye injury?
There are three things you can do to help prevent an eye injury:
- Know the eye safety dangers at work-complete an eye hazard assessment
- Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls)
- Use proper eye protection.
HOW CAN EYE INJURIES BE PREVENTED?
— — ALWAYS WEAR EFFECTIVE EYE PROTECTION. OSHA standards require that employers provide workers with suitable eye protection. To be effective, the eyewear must be of the appropriate type for the hazard encountered and properly fitted. For example, the BLS survey showed that 94% of the injuries to workers wearing eye protection resulted from objects or chemicals going around or under the protector. Eye protective devices should allow for air to circulate between the eye and the lens. Only 13 workers injured while wearing eye protection reported breakage.
— — Better Training and Education. BLS reported that most workers were hurt while doing their regular jobs. Workers injured while not wearing protective eyewear most often said they believed it was not required by the situation. Even though the vast majority of employers furnished eye protection at no cost to employees, about 40% of the workers received no information on where and what kind of eyewear should be used.
— — Maintenance. Eye protection devices must be properly maintained. Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents.
EYE PROTECTION WORKS! BUT NOT IF YOU DON’T USE IT!!
BLS reported that more than 50% of workers injured while wearing eye protection thought the eyewear had minimized their injuries. But nearly half the workers also felt that another type of protection could have better prevented or reduced the injuries they suffered.
— Does safety eye protection work?
Nearly one million Americans have lost some degree of their sight due to an eye injury. More than 700,000 Americans injure their eyes at work each year.
— It is estimated that 90% of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear.
Here are 10 ways that you can help prevent an eye injury in your workplace.
Look carefully at plant operations. Inspect all work areas, access routes, and equipment for hazards to eyes. Study eye accident and injury reports. Identify operations and areas the present eye hazards.
Uncorrected vision problems can cause accidents. Provide vision testing during routine employee physical exams.
Select protective eyewear that is designed for the specific duty or hazard. Protective eyewear must meet the current standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and later revisions.
Create a 100% mandatory program for eye protection in all operation areas of your plant. A broad program prevents more injuries and is easier to enforce than one that limits eye protection to certain departments, areas, or jobs.
Workers need protective eyewear that fits well and is comfortable. Have eyewear fitted by an eye care professional or someone trained to do this. Provide repairs for eyewear and require each worker to be in charge of his or her own gear.
Plan for an Emergency!
Set up first-aid procedures for eye injuries. Have eyewash stations that are easy to get to, especially where chemicals are used. Train workers in basic first-aid and identify those with more advanced training.
Conduct ongoing educational programs to create, keep up, and highlight the need for protective eyewear. Add eye safety to your regular employee training programs and to new employee orientation.
Management support is key to having a successful eye safety program. Management can show their support for the program by wearing protective eyewear whenever and wherever needed.
Regularly review and update your accident prevention policies. Your goal should be NO eye injuries or accidents!
Put it in Writing!
Once your safety program is created, put it in writing. Display a copy of the policy in work and employee gathering areas. Include a review of the policy in new employee orientation.
Prevent Blindness, design a safety education program to promote the widespread use of approved protective eyewear that meets ANSI Z87 industrial or ASTM sports standards.
— If something does get in your eye, DON’T RUB IT!! YOU WILL PUSH THE OBJECT FURTHER IN!
Get to the nearest eye wash station and flush for 15 minutes. Then seek medical attention.
PROTECT WHAT GETS DAMAGED MOST
The cornea is the clear surface of the front of the eye. It helps direct light through the lens, so it contains no blood vessels. It is kept clean and moist by tears.
This is the space between the cornea and iris, and is filled with a liquid called the Aqueous Humor.
This fluid provides oxygen and nutrients to the cornea and iris.
The lens focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye. The ciliary muscles and tiny fibres called zonules change its shape to let it focus on near or far objects.
The vitreous humor is a gel that fills the rest of the eye.
This is the colored part of the eye; it’s actually a ring of muscles that can contract or expand, making the pupil smaller or larger to let in less or more light.
The pupil is the hole in the iris that light passes through.