Your Eyes Are Amazing—They Deserve Quality PPE
When vision is impaired, quality of life and the ability to work experience a drastic and unfortunate decline. Preventing eye injuries should be a top task on every safety professional’s to-do list.
According to NIOSH, every day more than 2,000 workers in the United States suffer from an eye injury and require medical treatment. That’s more than 700,000 Americans each year! Approximately one-third of those injuries require emergency room treatment and 100 of them result in one or more days away from work.
When Should Workers Wear Eye Protection?
Any worker or bystander who is working in, near, or passing through eye risk areas should wear protective eyewear. Please see the sidebar about OSHA’s general requirements for employers to provide eye protection.
The type of eye protection to specify depends on the hazards in the workplace. If the job site has flying objects, particles, or dust, safety glasses with side protection (side shields) must be worn. Workers who work with or near chemicals should wear goggles with indirect vents. If hazardous radiation is a risk, workers must wear special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, faceshields, or helmets designed for that task.
Common causes for eye injuries include:
- Flying objects from equipment operation (bits of metal, glass, wood, etc.)
- Chemical splash
- Particles and dust
- Acids or caustic liquids
- Harmful radiation
- Falling objects when reaching for items on tall shelves
Three Things That Help to Prevent Eye Injuries
1. Understand and identify the safety risks at work.
Identify the work activities that could put your employees’ or guests’ eyes at risk. Risk is the probability that a person will be harmed if exposed to a hazard, such as the hazards listed above. Risks are usually rated:
- low for minimal risk
- medium for minor or serious risks that aren’t likely to occur
- high for unacceptable risks that are likely to occur
Organizations should always consider ways to eliminate or modify unacceptable vision risks.
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.