Common eye injuries occurring at work can result from being exposed to chemical or foreign objects in the eye and cuts or scrapes on the cornea. Other causes of injuries include splashes with grease and oil, burns from steam, ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure, and flying wood or metal debris.
In addition, health care workers, laboratory and janitorial staff, and other types of workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases from eye exposure. Some infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of direct exposure to blood splashes, saliva droplets from coughing, or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects.
Wearing the correct eye protection for the job is important for your safety and health.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of eye and face protection whenever there is a reasonable probability of injury that could be prevented on the job and equipment used. In addition, personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full-face respirators should be used when an eye hazard exists.
The eye protection chosen for specific work depends on the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used, and individual vision needs.
Proper Eye Protection in the Workplace
Some working conditions include multiple eye hazards. The best methods of eye protection will range between each type of hazard. The eye protection must be paired to the potential hazard. These high-risk occupations for eye injuries include:
- Auto Repair
- Electrical Work
The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace. For example:
- If you are working in an area that involves particles, flying objects, or dust, you must wear safety glasses with side protection.
- If you are in a laboratory working with chemicals, you must wear protective goggles.
- If you are working near hazardous radiation, you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that specific job.
To further increase the safety of employees, employers need to take steps to make the work environment as safe as possible. This includes conducting an eye hazard assessment, removing or reducing eye hazards where possible, providing appropriate safety eyewear, and requiring employees to wear it.
How Can I Protect My Eyes from Injury?
Under the OSHA Act, the responsibility for providing a safe workplace falls on employers. Within that, OSHA requires employers to provide workers with suitable eye protection and enforce proper standards.
With these standards in place, there are four things you can personally do to protect your eyes from potential injury:
- Know the eye safety dangers at your work.
- Eliminate hazards before starting work by using machine guards, work screens, or other engineering controls.
- Use proper eye protection.
- Keep your safety eyewear in good condition and have it replaced if it becomes damaged.
Nonprescription and prescription safety glasses may look like normal dress eyewear; however, they are designed to provide significantly more eye protection. The lenses and frames are much stronger than regular eyeglasses.
Other eye protection includes:
- Goggles: Provide protection from impact, dust, and chemical splash. Like safety glasses, safety goggles are highly impact-resistant. They provide a shield around the entire eye and protect against hazards coming from any direction.
- Face Shields and Helmets: Full face shields protect workers exposed to chemical, heat, or blood-borne pathogens; helmets are used for welding or working with molten materials. However, they need to be used in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles.
- Special Protection: Helmets or goggles with a special filter to protect eyes from optical radiation exposure should be used for welding or working with lasers.
Combined with machine guards, screened or divided workstations, and other engineering controls, using the correct protective eyewear can help keep you safe from any type of eye hazard.
Eye Safety at Home
Most people consider their home a safe place. Unfortunately, the potential for eye injury is as high at home as in the workplace. Accidents can occur anywhere inside a home, including the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or family room.
Household cleaners are some of the biggest culprits that cause eye-related injuries. There are even precautions you can take to help protect your eyes while working.
Outside, eye injuries often happen during yard work. Hazards like mowers, trimmers, and shovel people dirt and debris into the air. Branches, twigs, thorns, and even gardening pose a significant risk.
During many routine household activities, everyone involved or nearby should wear protective eyewear.
Accidents usually happen when least expected, so always think of safety first. Consistently wearing safety eyewear and practicing good safety habits will significantly reduce your chances of an eye injury.
For help or questions regarding eye protection, do not hesitate to contact Asheville Vision and Wellness. Our staff is always happy to assist you with all of your eye care needs. Give us a call or book an appointment today.