According to the U.S. CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention), April is Women’s Eye Health & Safety Month. This year there are two themes: ‘Eye Safety at Work’ and ‘Healthy Vision: Make It Last a Lifetime.’
Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of these eye injuries.
Eye hazards against which protection is needed in the workplace:
- Projectiles (dust, concrete, metal, wood and other particles)
- Chemicals (splashes and fumes)
- Radiation (especially visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, and lasers)
- Bloodborne pathogens (hepatitis or HIV) from blood and body fluids
Assess your Work Place: Inspect the work area, access routes, and equipment for hazards to eyes. Study eye accident and injury reports. Identify operations and areas the present eye hazards. The process can involve, for example, a workplace survey that asks what types of accidents have taken place, what hazards people are reporting, whether the Ministry of Labour has ever issued an order, and whether someone has had an eye injury in the last few years. Inspect, audit, interview – do whatever is necessary to fully understand the hazards of everyone’s job.
Regular Test: Regular physical examinations should be conducted to provide vision testing during work hours.
Select Protective Eye Wear: Select the right eye protection for the work site. Protective eyewear must meet the current standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and later revisions. Also, make sure safety eyewear is in good condition. Make sure safety eyewear fits right and stays in place. Find out all you can about exactly what features you need in your protective eyewear. Watch out for tinted lenses. There are right and wrong applications for tinted lenses. They might actually be mandated for outdoor workers, as long as they have the appropriate UV protection rating.
Keep your safety eyewear in good condition and have it replaced if it becomes damaged.: Workers need protective eyewear that fits well and is comfortable. Have eyewear fitted by an eye care professional or someone trained to do this. Provide repairs for eyewear and require each worker to be in charge of his or her own gear. Workers who need prescription safety eyewear, especially bifocals or trifocals, tend to hang onto scratched, damaged ones longer because they’re so costly to the employer. The solution: Wear your regular glasses and wear mono goggles over top.
First Aid procedures for Eye Injuries: Eye wash stations should be located near by to work place. The water should be just the right temperature so that the affected worker will be able to tolerate the recommended minimum 15-minute eye rinse. Some eyewash stations contain a saline solution that’s self-contained, eliminating concerns for water that’s too hot or cold. Have eyewash stations that are easy to get to, especially where chemicals are used. Train workers in basic first-aid and identify those with more advanced training.
Add Eye Safety to your regular employee training program: and to new employee orientation. Conduct ongoing educational programs to establish, maintain and reinforce the need for protective eyewear.
Support: Management support is key to having a successful eye safety program. Management can show their support for the program by wearing protective eyewear whenever and wherever needed.
Stay Updated: Your accident prevention policy should be regularly updated with a goal – NO eye injuries or accidents!
Display: A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. These workers most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation. Therefore, make sure to display a copy of the policy in work and employee gathering areas. Include a review of the policy in new employee orientation.
Eye injuries that do occur should be treated only by trained personnel: in order to prevent further damage. As a general rule, avoid rubbing the injured eye, apply a loose patch, and go to an ophthalmologist or an emergency room physician as soon as possible. In the case of chemical injuries, flush the eye immediately with generous amounts of water, and contact an ophthalmologist promptly.
- Vision screening for workers
- Determination of visual requirements for each job
- Assessment of potential eye hazards in the job environment
- Rules requiring that basic eye protection be worn
- A supply of corrective safety glasses for workers