Eye injuries in the workplace are very common, workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of these eye injuries.
Eye protection is very essential and important in the workplace. Simply using the proper eye protection on the job could prevent thousands of occupational eye injuries each year.
Common eye injuries occurring at work can result from chemicals or foreign objects in the eye, cuts, or abrasion on the cornea. Other causes of injuries include splashes of chemicals, grease, and oil, burns from steam, ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure, and flying wood or metal chips.
- Everyone is at risk of occupational hazards once you fail to use adequate eyewear for your job.
Two major reasons workers experience eye injuries on the job are because they were:
- Not wearing eye protection.
- Wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.
- A survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. These workers most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation.
- Workers are required to use eye and face protection whenever there is a reasonable probability of injury that could be prevented by such equipment. Personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full-face respirators must be used when an eye hazard exists. The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used, and individual vision needs.
- Potentials for ocular hazards at work.
Coming in contact with them increases your risk of ocular hazards:
- Projectiles (dust, concrete, metal, wood, and other particles)
- Chemicals (splashes and fumes)
- Radiation (especially visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, and lasers)
- Bloodborne pathogens (hepatitis or HIV) from blood and body fluids.
- Some working conditions include multiple eye hazards. Proper eye protection takes all hazards into account.
High-risk occupations for eye injuries include Construction, Engineering, welding, etc.
Type of eyewear to use.
- If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields)
- If you are working with chemicals, you must wear goggles.
- If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.
Note: employers need to take steps to make the work environment as safe as possible. This includes:
- Conducting an eye hazard assessment of the workplace.
- Removing or reducing eye hazards where possible.
- Providing appropriate safety eyewear and requiring employees to wear it.
Your optometrist can assist your employer and you in evaluating potential eye hazards in your workplace and determining what type of eye protection may be needed.
What should be done in cases of emergency?
Seek medical attention as soon as possible following an injury. There are several simple first aid steps that can and should be taken until medical assistance is obtained.
- First aid for eye emergencies:
Chemicals in the eye
- Immediately flush the eye with water for at least 15 minutes. Place the eye under a faucet or shower, use a garden hose, or pour water into the eye from a clean container.
- If you are wearing contact lenses, do not wait to remove the lenses. Begin flushing the eye immediately. This may wash the lens out of the eye.
- Do not try to neutralize the chemical with other substances.
- Do not bandage the eye.
- Seek immediate medical attention after flushing.
Particles in the eye
- Do not rub the eye.
- Do not attempt to remove the particle or object from your eyes.
- Try to let your tears wash the speck out or irrigate the eye with an artificial tear solution.
- If the particle does not wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage it lightly and seek medical care.
Blows or trauma to the eye
- Gently apply a cold compress without putting pressure on the eye. Crushed ice in a plastic bag can be placed gently on the injured eye to reduce pain and swelling.
- In cases of severe pain or reduced vision, seek immediate medical care.
- Do not wash out the eye.
- Seek immediate medical care.