The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that approximately 2,000 employees incur work-related eye injuries every day. Up to 20% of those injured will become permanently or temporarily disabled due to vision loss. The good news is that up to 90% of all work-related eye injuries can be prevented. Learning how to prevent injury is the key to avoiding what could be a lifelong disability.
Eye injuries can happen in almost any work environment. Grinding, hammering, painting, spraying, sanding, welding, and the handling of acids and caustics can lead to serious eye hazards. Particles of any size can become projectiles. Dust, fumes, intense heat, gases, vapors, and splashing liquids can be generated from your work and can get into your eye, causing serious injury.
Three out of five eye injuries happen because the employee is not wearing any eye protection. The most obvious suggestion for improving your safety is to make sure you wear safety goggles or other facial protection. It is important to realize, however, that these might not protect you adequately.
Almost 20% of eye injuries occur to employees wearing face shields or welding helmets while grinding. Lack of side shields on eye protection is a common cause for injury among those that do wear eye protection. The eye protection you select must fit properly and you must keep it clean. Most employees remove ill-fitting or dirty eye protection, defeating its purpose!
Choose the right eye protection for the job. Options include non-prescription and prescription safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, and full-face respirators. The higher quality the eye protection and the better its design, the longer and better it will protect you. As mentioned earlier, make sure the size is correct and the fit is tight. If it doesn’t fit you right, it will not protect you properly. Pick a comfortable goggle or face mask. Fidgeting and adjusting it constantly will only inhibit your ability to perform your job safely.
If you doubt the importance of following eye safety procedures, just consider the value of what you would lose. Close your eyes for just a minute, and imagine the world around you. Don’t take your sight for granted. Protect your sight and ensure your co-workers are doing the same. It could make all the difference.