The eyes are perhaps one of the most vulnerable parts of our body, and eye injuries are unfortunately one of the most common workplace injuries. As frequent as they are, eye injuries can be just as easily avoid and lessen their severity with proper eye protection and first aid. Most eye injuries from workers are caused either by wearing the wrong eye protection, or not wearing eye protection at all.
People who work in the manufacturing and industrial sectors are more often exposed to foreign objects and chemicals injuring their eyes, which is why work safety rules are often in place (and mandated by law). However, it’s not enough to simply have safety glasses to protect one’s eyes; one must know the potential eye hazards, safety products, and first-aid procedure for eye injuries:
Common Eye Hazards and How to Avoid Them
When talking about eye injuries or hazards, most people assume small particles. However, there are a lot of potential eye hazards in the workplace:
Projectiles. The most common cause of eye injury come from dust, metal shavings, wood splinters, and other small solid objects that can scratch or even penetrate the cornea. Those in construction, repair, manufacturing, and carpentry are more often exposed to projectiles. Those working with particles should wear safety glasses with side shields or protection.
Chemicals. Although most people would avoid splashes from chemicals they’re working on, workers should be aware that mere fumes can irritate and potentially damage the eye. So be wary that chemical burns are not only limited to skin contact with chemicals, but also with eyes exposed to chemical or chemical fumes. Those handling chemicals should wear goggles to avoid splashes and fumes.
Radiation. Lasers, UV radiation, heat, infrared can damage the eyes. One of the most common radiation injuries is welder’s flash or arc eye, which is caused by unprotected exposure to welding flashes. Those working with radiation should have specialized safety tools (glasses/shields/helmets) that are designed for the task.
Eye Protection Products
Safety Glasses. Safety glasses look similar to normal eyewear but are designed to be more durable, impact-resistant, and are often clear (not tinted or colored). Safety glasses can protect from tiny particles while working on wood, metal, and other solid material.
Goggles. Goggles, similar to safety glasses, are also durable and impact-resistant. They enclose and secure the entire area around the eyes, protecting the eyes from particles, chemicals, and fumes. Goggles are often made big enough so that they can be used with prescription glasses
Shields and Helmets. Face shields can protect the worker from heat, extreme light (such as in welding), and particles. They are often used in tandem with goggles or safety glasses.
Radiation Protection. There are goggles and helmets designed specifically for radiation protection, which is often used for those working with lasers.
First Aid Preparedness
First aid differs for each type of injury and hazard. A workplace, especially those in the crafting and industrial sectors, have strict safety guidelines. But one should ensure that in the absence of medical staff, there should always be ready guidelines and facilities/equipment in case of eye injury (as well as all other forms of occupational injuries).
Protecting one’s eyes should be a workplace priority. But it’s best to be informed regarding all these hazards and ways to protect your eyes from them, and to make sure that your workplace prepared for any instance of eye injuries.