Your eyes, and their health, are critical to your success at work, and to your ability to fully enjoy life independently. According to Prevent Blindness America, more than 300,000 eye injuries occur each year in the workplace. Of these injuries, 10 percent result in missed days of work and of those injuries, 10 to 20 percent will cause temporary or permanent blindness. OSHA estimates that 90 percent of such injuries could be prevented by wearing the proper protective eyewear. Even minor eye injuries can cause vision problems that last a lifetime.
Consider these other eye-opening injury statistics:
- Eye injuries make up nearly 45% of all head injuries that lead to missed work days.
- Eye injuries account for an estimated annual $300 million in medical bills, compensation, and time off.
- Men ages 25-44 comprise 80% of all workplace eye injury victims.
- 40% of on-the-job eye injuries happen in the manufacturing, construction, and mining industries.
Eye Injuries Are a Serious Threat
There are countless eye hazards on any job site, including particles that have been ejected from a tool or blown by the wind. Chemical splashes and swinging objects can also be eye hazards on a worksite. However, most eye injuries are preventable if you follow simple safety precautions, and always wear your safety goggles!
What Causes Most Eye Injuries?
Eye injuries can result from a variety of causes:
- Flying objects in the air
- Chemical splashes
- Harmful radiation
To protect your eyes from injuries while at work, consider the following recommendations:
- Know the eye safety dangers at work.
- Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls.
- Use proper eye protection. Wear protective eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear.
Safety Glasses Can Prevent Most Eye Injuries
Each day in the United States, 2,000 workers experience a job-related eye injury requiring medical treatment. To prevent such injuries, be sure to always use the appropriate safety gear for on-the-job risks. This may include:
Safety Glasses – Safety glasses must be built to protect from most debris. They should have side shields mounted to the frame. Glasses should be adjusted to fit properly around your ears and nose without sliding down while you are working.
Goggles – Goggles are a good choice for protection against dust and mists. They should fit snuggly without any gaps between the goggles and your face. For warm weather conditions, choose goggles with vents to prevent them from fogging up while working.
Face Shields – Face shields are built to protect the whole face, unlike glasses that only protect the eyes. Be sure to adjust the ratchets on the headband for an individual fit.
Welding Helmets – Helmets protect against heat, flying chips, sparks and debris. Choose a helmet that’s lightweight and comfortable, but also durable.
Full Hoods – Hoods provide additional protection against harmful gasses, light rays and molten metal.
Tinted or Shaded Lenses – Lenses with tinting or shading may limit vision. This is especially true when moving from dimly lit areas to brighter spots. Additionally, dirty or scratched lenses can further impair vision.
Prescription Lenses – Prescription eyeglasses, except for specifically designed safety glasses, are not meant to offer eye protection. You should always wear eye protection designed to fit over your prescription glasses, or wear protective eyewear made with your prescription. If you wear contacts, it is especially important that you use the correct eye protection, as contacts can react dangerously with irritants and trap dust or chemicals against the eye.
Remember, safety gear is only effective if used correctly. Be sure to choose the appropriate equipment for conditions and always make the necessary adjustments to ensure proper fit. In some special situations, additional safety precautions may be needed.
Find Protective Eyewear that Works for You
You can find many ways to make safety glasses or goggles work for you.
If you find safety glasses uncomfortable, experiment with different sizes or styles.
Safety glasses should rest firmly on top of the nose and close to—but not against—the face. If they are uncomfortable, foggy or sight-restrictive, then find a different pair. Make sure glasses are fit well while you are also wearing your hard hat and other protective equipment.
Wear glasses or goggles that are properly ventilated for the work you are performing. Unless you are working near splash hazards, use goggles that have plenty of side ventilation.
If you wear prescription glasses, wear goggles designed to fit over your glasses or safety glasses made with your prescription.
If your goggles fog up, try a model with more ventilation or coat them with an anti-fog liquid.
Wear a sweatband or handkerchief around your head to keep sweat off your goggles.
Always keep your safety glasses clean. Scratched and dirty glasses or goggles can reduce vision, can cause glare and may contribute to accidents.
It takes only one accident to cause partial or complete blindness. Even tasks that you don’t consider dangerous may present a risk for eye injury. Take a moment to think about possible eye hazards around each job site, and then take the necessary precautions to help prevent potential accidents and injuries. For more information on eye safety and work comp injury prevention, call Roper insurance’s work comp specialists at 303-721-1145 or email us at [email protected]