It’s Workplace Eye Safety Month!

March 13, 2020
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Why is it that the most fragile part of our body is the one we seem to protect the least? According to the Washington Eye, it’s estimated that around 2,000 American workers suffer from an eye injury on the job every day. While some of these instancesmay have been freak accidents, at least 90 percent of reported injuries could have been completely avoided by using safety precautions.

Our eyes are not equipped with any natural protection, and it’s very easy for an injury to occur at workMarch is Workplace Eye Safety Monthserving as a simple reminder to workers and employers across all occupations to be mindful of the dangers when it comes to eye safety. These are some of the eye hazards to watch for and how to keep employees safe.

Types of Eye Hazards

Any negative impact on the eyes can change a worker’s overall quality of life. There are various possible hazards in the workplace that could lead to eye injuries across multiple industries, including:

– Projectiles- this could mean dust, concrete, metal, wood, or any other particles that could scratch or strike the eye.
– Radiation- lasers, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat/infrared radiation.
– Chemicals- splashes and fumes, which can cause burns.
– Bloodborne pathogens- blood and body fluids can come in contact with the eye and spread HIV or hepatitis.

Flying objects, chemicals, tools, particles, and harmful radiation are among the most common causes of occupational eye injuries. Sadly, most of these injuries are also highly preventable when proper safety measures are used.

Protective Gear for Eyes

The American Optometric Association (A.O.A.) reports that workers experience eye injuries for two reasons: they were not wearing eye protection, and/or they were wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job. Various types of eye protectionthat can be used to protect workers from occupational eye injuries include:

– Goggles- highly impact-resistant, and shield the entire eye area to protect against hazards from any direction.
– Prescription or Nonprescription Safety Glasses- while they can appear to be normal eyeglasses, these have a much stronger frame and much more durable lenses.
– Face Shields- face shields protect against chemicals, heat or bloodborne pathogens.
– Helmets- are most common in fields where welding, or molten materials are used.
– Special Protection- helmets or goggles with special filters for optical radiation exposure, welding or laser use.

Wearing just any type of eye protection will not prevent a worker from an injury. Protective eyewear must be kept in good condition and replaced immediately when damaged. The type of eye protection needed will depend on the kind of work being doneAdditionally, all protective eyewear should be compliant according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration(O.S.H.A.) regulations to fully protect workers from preventable harm.

Industries Where Eye Injuries Are Common

It’s often believed that eye injuries only occur in construction or trade jobs. Butresearch shows that about 40 percent of work-related eye injuries happen in offices, laboratories, and other work environments alike. According to Bard Optical, these are the seven identified professions where eye injuries occur the most and the hazards they face in the workplace:

– Offices– constant screen time, eye strain, vision trouble over time.
– Healthcare– bodily fluids, and blood are pathogens that can enter the eyes.
– Laboratories– chemicals and blood-testing exposure that enter the eyes by splashes or mists.
– Manufacturing– projectiles such as metal, wood, dust, and debris can damage the cornea.
– Construction projectiles such as metal, wood, concrete, and other building materials.
– Automotive Mechanics– chemicals, car debris and other foreign materials that go airborne during the maintenance of vehicles.
– Professional Sports strikes to the face, balls flying, and other blunt forces to the eyes.

No matter the severity or degree of harm, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. No one wants to live a life where their vision can be impaired or endure a lifetime of recovery and constant medical attentionEmployees must be aware of how to take the necessary precautions and be aware of the known eye hazards they could encounter in every aspect of the workplace.

Ten Steps to Prevent Eye Injury

Prevent Blindness, a leading eye health and safety organizationprovides a great deal of insight into helping workplaces across the country embrace Workplace Eye Safety Month. Here are ten recommendations to help workplaces focus on reducing occupational eye injuries affecting their employees:

Assess: Inspect and identify all work areas, equipment, plant operations, and access routes for hazards.

Test: Routine employee physical exams are a perfect opportunity to test eye vision. Corrected eye vision (if needed), reduces accidents.

Protect: Using the correct protective eyewear is crucial. Follow the industry standards and expert recommendations for ensuring employees are wearing the right gear for the job every time.

Fit: With a great emphasis on protective eyewear, it’s important that all employees have eyewear that fits correctly and comfortablyUse a trained professional to fit and repair gear as needed.

Participate: Specific programs for eye protection in all departments should be mandatory. If there are none in place, they should be created and made accessible to all employees.

Educate: Educational programs are essential to keeping any work environment safe. Employers should be educating all supervisors and employees consistently.

Plan for Emergencies: First-aid procedures should be set in place. Eyewash stations should be installed in areas with risks for debris and chemical splashes. Workers should be trained in basic first-aid and able to identify which safety methods to use when eye injuries occur.

Support: Management should be highly involved and show an active interest in their employees’ well-being.

Review: Review all prevention policies on a regular basis to identify new hazards or training areas of need.

Put it in Writing: Write down all safety procedures, policies, and programs for the workplace and make them accessible to employees who need to reference them in the future.

Connecticut Workplace Accident Attorneys 

Eye injuries in the workplace can be dramatically reduced when proper safety protocols are set in place. Employers and contractors who do not prioritize safety put the lives of their workers at unnecessary risk. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the medical negligence of a health care facility or physician, you may be eligible to receive compensation for any damages suffered. 

As Connecticut personal injury experts, we always have your best interests and safety in mind. Our aggressive attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace will help you fight back by providing a free case evaluation to explore all your options for seeking justice against reckless distracted drivers. Contact us today for a free consultation and to explore your rights for justice.  

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