A recent American Academy of Ophthalmology study on workplace safety found that around 2,000 employees suffer on-the-job eye injuries each day. Furthermore, approximately 20% of these injuries keep employees from returning to work due to temporary or permanent vision loss. On the other hand, experts have found that 90% of all work related eye injuries are preventable with proper protective equipment and employee training.
Eye injuries pose a constant threat in many lines of work. Carpenters, construction workers, painters, welders, and those who work around dangerous chemicals are only a sample of employees that face the risk of serious eye injuries every day. Particles can fly off of saw blades and hazardous chemicals burn and release fumes, both with the potential to leave an employee seriously injured.
The majority of on-the-job eye injures result from the employee not wearing the required eye protection. Although the simple solution to this problem is to have the employees wear goggles and/or face shields, much more goes into keeping workers’ eyes safe on the job. Even welders experience eye injuries while wearing helmets and face protection while grinding, mostly because the protective equipment is dirty or does not fit properly. Wearing goggles without side shields or using face-masks that are too large or too small leave the employee’s eyes open to blowing dust or intense heat, defeating the purpose of wearing protection in the first place.
The key is selecting the correct eye protection for the job. A wide array of eye protection is available with prescription or standard lenses, including safety glasses, protective goggles, face shields, welding helmets, and even full-face respirators. As with most safety products, the higher the quality, the better it protects. When selecting eye protection, check for a snug, comfortable fit and seek out any gaps in coverage or areas of weakness. Also, investigate how it is put together to ensure the protective equipment is durable and will hold up in the work environment.
Eye injuries have serious consequences. They can leave employees permanently disabled, affecting their income and livelihood. Understand that the vast majority of workplace eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper safety equipment.