Here’s something that will open your eyes—every day, 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment—that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those injuries, 10–20 percent will lead to temporary or permanent vision loss.
Some of these injuries are the result of small objects that come in contact with the eye, chemical splashes, welder’s flash, or concrete or metal particles embedded in the eye.
Now here’s the good news. Ninety percent of all eye injuries are preventable with the proper use of eyewear and using good judgment. We’re here to help you reduce eye injury risks with the following safety measures.
Keep your guard up
The key to preventing any eye injury is protection. That means making sure your eyes and machinery is properly guarded. In addition to always being worn, eyewear—such as face shields, goggles, safety glasses, welding helmets, and full-face respirators—should be ANSI Z87.1 certified. When using face shields, googles should also be worn.
Not sure your business is properly prepared when it comes to eye protection? Check out OSHA’s eTool for selecting proper personal protective equipment for eye and face protection.
Be aware of the situation
As part of a workplace safety plan, review with your employees good work practices, such as paying attention to your surroundings and no horseplay. Eye protection shouldn’t be worn just for those operating equipment. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should be properly protected as well.
Also, be diligent in removing all dust and debris from protective wear (i.e., hard hat, goggles, etc.) before taking them off, and never rub your eyes with dirty hands or clothing.
Recognizing an eye injury
Recognizing an eye injury is important, as time is a factor. If you notice any of these signs on yourself or others, seek medical help immediately:
- Person in obvious pain or has trouble with his or her vision
- Person has a cut or torn eyelid
- One eye does not move as well as the other
- One eye sticks out compared to the other
- The pupil size or shape is unusual
- Blood is present in the clear area of the eye
- There is something in the eye or under the eyelid that can’t be easily removed
In case of an eye injury
Every business should have an ANSI-approved eyewash station. Be sure to train your employees on how to use the station in the event of an emergency, and have the area clearly marked for easy location.
If you get something in your eye, don’t rub it. Flush it with clean water for 15–20 minutes and seek medical assistance—even if the injury seems minor.
If the eye is cut or punctured, do not rinse or touch the eye and immediately seek medical attention.
According to OSHA, $300 million is lost annually due to workplace eye injuries. Education and best practices can greatly reduce those risks.
We’re here for you
If you have any questions or need additional information on eye safety in the workplace, please contact us. We’re here to help.