Thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection
Since January is National Eye Care Month, this is a good time to think about eye safety. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of employers don’t think seriously enough about this problem. According to the LASIK Vision Institute, an astounding 70,000 eye injuries each year cost American business $450 billion.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the chief causes of eye injury are flying objects, contact with chemicals, improper equipment operation, poor choice of eyewear, improper fit, and lack of awareness about risks.
Examples of Eye Hazards
Depending on your workplace and the kind of tasks employees perform, eye hazards will vary, of course. But these are the usual suspects:
- Impact from flying objects such as large chips, fragments, particles, sand, and dirt from tasks such as chipping, grinding, machining, masonry work, wood working, sawing, drilling, chiseling, powered fastening, riveting, and sanding.
- Chemicals in the form of splashes, fumes, vapors, and irritating mists from tasks such as acid and chemical handling, degreasing, plating, and so forth.
- Harmful dust getting in the eyes from tasks such as woodworking, buffing, and general dusty conditions.
- Radiant energy, glare, and intense light from tasks such as welding, torch-cutting, brazing, soldering, and laser work.
- Heat from anything emitting extreme heat from tasks such as furnace operations, pouring, casting, hot dipping, and welding.
- Blood and infectious material splashes that could allow bloodborne pathogens to enter the body through the eyes.
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The LASIK Vision Institute urges employers to take steps to protect the eyes and eyesight of their employees. The Institute recommends the following:
- Provide the highest-quality eye protection, such as that found in polycarbonate lenses.
- Make sure protective eyewear can be customized and is adjustable. Gear that cannot be fit to an employee’s face is more likely to be removed than gear that fits well.
- Inspect goggles periodically for cracks, breaks, and loose frames. Train employees to regularly look for and report these problems.
- Regularly assess to determine if current eye protection measures are adequate, especially when new procedures or materials are introduced.
Additionally, employees should be trained to recognize eye hazards, select the proper protection for different kinds of hazards, and care for protective eyewear properly.
Can you picture safety training in effective, 7-minute sessions? Get the details.
BLR’s 7-Minute Safety Trainer’s eye protection session focuses on eight key training points:
- OSHA requirements
- Eye hazards
- Need to protect against the greatest possible hazard level
- Proper fit for protective eyewear
- Combining protective eyewear with prescription lenses
- Inspecting eye protection
- Cleaning and maintenance of eyewear
- First aid for eye injuries
The session also provides a take away that matches hazards and protection and highlights other key issues such as cleaning and disinfecting, storage, and eyewear replacement. The session winds up with a 10-question quiz to evaluate trainees’ understanding of the training points.
Take time this month to make sure your employees are well trained in eye safety. That way you can avoid eye accidents this year, and your employees will always have two good eyes to work with.