EYE SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE
Every day more than 2,000 people suffer from eye injuries while they are at work. One in 10 injuries may result in one or more missed days of work. With these statistics, we cannot stress enough the importance of workplace eye safety.
Many people feel that their glasses are sufficient to protect against eye injuries. While they do help to prevent foreign objects from entering your eye, they are not your best form of defense. Having the proper safety goggles can help keep you from being the 10-20% of those injuries that result in permanent vision loss!
The most common professions for eye injuries are those that perform manual labor. Professions such as steel workers, carpenters, welders, painters, etc. run the highest risk of eye injury. The most common causes for eye injuries are particles entering the eye, flying objects (bits of metal, glass, wood, and dirt), chemicals and tools utilized for the job.
Knowledge is the key to your safety. Know what the eye safety dangers are in your workplace and evaluate the hazards. Eliminate these hazards before starting work by using things such as machine guards, work screens, safety glasses and other eye protection devices. Operating equipment without proper training or without knowing the safety risks involved will increase your chances of serious injury.
There are many different types of eye protection. You should choose your eye protection based on what level of exposure your eyes have to hazards.
Some different types of eye protection include:
- Safety Glasses. Safety glasses are made of hard plastic that is resistant to shattering and breaking. They protect your eyes from the front and sides against foreign objects that can be harmful to your eyes. Safety Glasses should be used for light duty work.
- Goggles. Goggles provide complete coverage around your eyes. The goggles should properly seal to your face which provides greater protection than safety glasses against foreign material entering the eyes. Goggles are more effective against chemicals, sprays and sand blasting than safety glasses.
- Face Shields. Face shields provide coverage to not only your eyes but also to your entire face. These are worn when cutting tools are being used to protect from sparks or when larger pieces of debris can be thrown from power tools such as weed wackers or chain saws.
- Welding Helmets. A welding helmet is not only used to help protect your eyes from foreign objects but also from the extreme bright light that is produced when welding.
- Full-Face Respirators. Full-face respirators are used when gasses are present. They prevent any damage to your eyes from fumes. It is important to use full face respirators when doing things such as using a spray gun in an enclosed area, or mixing chemicals that can be dangerous to the eyes.
Regardless of what your profession is be sure to use the proper eye protection. Failing to take the proper precautions can result in a trip to the emergency room, cause you to miss work, and may even result in permanent vision loss.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.