Can You See the Importance of Workplace Eye Wellness Month?

Eye Wellness

The human eye is often taken for granted – even though it’s one of the most delicate parts of the human body.

This March inform others about the importance of eye protection in the workplace. 

Nearly 2,000 people in the U.S. injure their eyes while working, every day. Of these 2,000 workers, one-third of the injuries are severe enough to be treated in an emergency room.

That’s why Prevent Blindness has declared the entire month of March as Workplace Eye Wellness awareness. With the right eye protection, you could lessen the severity or even prevent 90% of eye injuries and accidents. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that almost three out of the five workplace eye injuries are due to not wearing appropriate eye protection. 

How do others know they need to wear eye protection?

Post signs and labels in the immediate area to inform and protect others from eye-related injuries. And always have the appropriate PPE readily available in dispensers, holders, and/or custom PPE boards.

You could even go a step further. Before visitors or employees walk into the area, remind them of the required safety glasses with a durable floor marking sign.

What industries need eye protection?

Eye safety is a concern in many industries including manufacturing, healthcare, construction, and lab work – but not like those exposed to electric arcs and gas flames. Per OSHA, shipyard workers engaged in hot work, eye injuries are among the most common type of injury experienced. Although most are not serious, they could potentially damage vision in one or both eyes.

In hot work environments, exposure to ultraviolet rays and radiant energy in the visible bands produced by electric arcs and gas flames can cause eye injuries. The most frequent injury, UV Keratitis, commonly called welders flash, occurs when the unprotected eye is exposed to the intense light generated from a welding arc. Chronic exposure can increase the risks of cataracts.

OSHA’s eye and face protection standard 29 CFR 1910.133 states, “The employer must ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”

What are the common eye-related injuries in the workplace?

Per the National Safety Council, all it takes is a tiny sliver of the metal particle, particle of dust, or a splash of chemical to cause significant and permanent eye damage.

The most common eye-related injuries include:

  1. Eye Scraping:  The most common eye-related injury is eye scraping. Eye scraping is when something hits or scratches the eye. These can be small objects or particles. Dust, wood or cement chips or metal slivers can all easily scrape the eye. As well, larger objects can come into contact with the face, causing trauma to the eye or the socket.
  2. Penetration: Penetration is when an object pierces the eye. This can cause blindness or loss of vision. Nails and staples are often the culprits, but slivers and other metal objects can also be to blame.
  3. Thermal and Chemical Burns: Cleaning products and industrial chemicals can cause major damage to the eye. Burns can cause permanent loss of vision and even damage the tissue surrounding the eye. Welders are often at the most risk for thermal burns because of the nature of their work.
  4. Protection: All employees must be made aware and reminded of the eye safety hazards that are present on the job site or in the workplace. That means using welding screens, work screens, machine guards, or any other method to prevent objects and materials from getting to the eyes and all employees much wear the right eye protection.

Whether you or your employees need to wear goggles, helmets, face shields, or safety glasses, simply wearing them will protect your eyes and often, even save your eyesight. 

Key Takeaways: Familiarize yourself with eye-related dangers at work and always wear the appropriate PPE to protect your vision.