Causes of workplace eye injuries and how to avoid them
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2,000 employees daily receive medical treatment for a work-related eye injury.
Of these 2,000 injuries, roughly one third are serious enough to require emergency medical treatment. And 100 of them result in at least one day of lost work.
Eye injuries can occur in practically any industry or workplace – from industrial factories and construction sites to offices and labs. Failing to provide workers with the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) could place them at a higher risk for eye injuries. Not to mention the fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates the use of PPE.
“Eye and face protection must be provided whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, and radiological hazards or mechanical irritants,” state the requirements on OSHA’s website.
Common Causes of Work-Related Eye Injury
The most common cause of work-related eye injury is from flying debris. When small piece of metal, glass or even plastic shoots out from underneath a tool with enough velocity, it may become embedded into a worker’s eye.
This is why it’s important for workers to wear the appropriate safety glasses when operating power tools and heavy machinery. Failing to wear durable safety glasses while operating power tools or heavy machinery can result in small pieces of debris flying towards the operator, placing him or her at risk for eye injury.
Of course, injury to the eye may also occur when acidic or otherwise harmful chemicals splash into a worker’s face. Workplaces with potentially harmful/dangerous chemicals should set up emergency eyewash stations in all hazardous areas.
Employees must receive training to know the exact locations of eyewash stations, and, how to operate them. Many employers set up emergency eyewash stations but fail to train their employees on how to use them; thus, failing to meet the rules set forth by OSHA.
Tips To Prevent a Work-Related Eye Injury
- Provide workers with protective eyewear.
- Properly maintain power tools and heavy machinery to reduce the risk of mechanical failure.
- Train workers on how to use an emergency eyewash station.
- Dust and chemical eye protective eyewear should create an air-tight seal around the wearer’s eyes.
- Disinfect used protective eyewear before it’s worn by another employee.
- Workers who wear prescription glasses, contacts or any other form of corrective lens should also wear the appropriate protective eyewear.