March Is Workplace Eye Safety Month!
Regardless of what industry you work in, every job poses eye hazards that can cause serious or even permanent injuries. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 2,000 American workers sustain an occupational eye injury every day and 90 percent of these accidents are entirely preventable.
March is Workplace Eye Safety Month and the perfect time to remind employers and employees about the importance of eye safety on the job. By spreading awareness of how eye injuries happen and what steps workers can take to prevent accidents, we can increase the likelihood of employees using approved and effective eye protection to help keep eyes safe.
Eye Accidents To Avoid
Eye injuries are not hard to come by with an endless number of hazards to avoid. Airborne particles can easily cause mild to severe irritation to the eyes, while objects forced directly into the eye can lead to traumatic injuries with the possibility of permanent vision loss.
The CDC lists these as the three most common accidents leading to eye injuries across all industries of the workforce:
- Eye Scratches and Trauma: Eye scratches can include any injury or incident where the eye is scratched, scraped, or struck. These injuries can result from small foreign particles such as dust, glass, or plastic entering the eye, or large objects hitting the face causing forced harm to the eye and surrounding areas.
- Eye Penetration: These types of injuries involve sharp objects that actually penetrate through the eyeball. Eye penetration accidents cause some of the most severe and permanent injuries, often resulting in complete vision loss.
- Eye Burns: Eye burns are caused by both chemicals and heat exposure. Splashes of hazardous chemicals such as cleaning products can be extremely harmful to the eyes and coming too close to extreme heat can burn the tissue surrounding the eyes causing excruciating pain.
Every job has its own specific hazards and suggested safety precautions to use when it comes to keeping eyes protected. Here are just a few examples highlighted by Alcon of how workers in certain industries can practice eye safety in the workplace.
Manufacturing and Factory Work
Factories and manufacturing industries are some of the most dangerous workplaces when it comes to your eyes. Whether you’re working with wood, plastic, chemicals, or even food, there are countless opportunities for objects to enter the eyes if proper precaution is not taken. Heavy machinery and fast-moving equipment can also pose a significant risk to employees if they are struck in the face and not wearing any protection as a barrier between the blunt force and their eyes.
Some of the most common hazards leading to injuries in manufacturing and factory jobs include:
- Nails or screws
- Sawdust or wood slivers
- Flying tools
- Bulky and heavy machinery
- Plastic, glass, or metal shavings
- Cleaning chemicals
- Bacteria from food
Employees who work in the manufacturing industry should always wear proper eye protection such as goggles or glasses on the job. Eye protection that is old, damaged, or in poor condition should never be used as they could break and cause further injury to the worker. Using all necessary guarding and shielding when working on machines can also help prevent unnecessary facial injuries.
In addition to the eye risks highlighted for manufacturing and factory jobs, welding positions also pose the additional hazards of working with extremely hot materials and tools. Burns to the eye tissue from getting too close to a flame or from a flaming piece of metal entering the eye can result in painful injuries and vision loss. Welders should always wear certified and approved helmets or full-face masks when performing their duties to keep their eyes and face safe while working.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who do not wear eye protection can be at risk for developing eye injuries, as well as eye diseases. Exposure to pathogens from blood splashes or droplets from coughing and sneezing can enter the eye through the mucous membrane and transmit life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis B virus, HIV, or influenza. Medical professionals should wear eye protection, especially during surgeries and other serious medical procedures where the risk of bodily fluids going airborne is high.
Yes- even cubical employees can damage their eyes! Aside from the threat of an accidently elbow to the eye from a coworker or pencil to the face, employees who spend the majority of their time looking at a screen can be at severe risk for developing eye strain known for leading to conditions such as dry eyes, fatigue, decreased productivity, headaches, and neck/shoulder pain. To reduce eye strain, employees can use these safety tips throughout the workday to improve their eye health:
- Place your screens about 25-inches away from your face.
- Use eye drops to keep eyes moist.
- Wear blue light glasses to reduce exposure to harmful light.
- Use a matte screen filter to reduce glare.
- Take breaks to give your eyes a much-needed rest.
Eye Safety For All Industries
Each eye injury and treatment plan are unique depending on the type of accident. However, when eye injuries do occur on the job, these general first aid recommendations can help keep eyes safe until you can seek medical care for your injury:
- Don’t rub your eyes to prevent further damage.
- If available, rinse your eyes out with saline solution to prevent infection. If not available, using water is safe only if the eye has not been penetrated.
- Remove yourself from any environment where eye hazards are still present that can create further irritation.
- Use fresh ice packs (never food) as cold compresses without putting pressure on the eye.
- Seek medical attention immediately with an eye specialist or in the emergency room.
For more specific eye safety tips, visit WebMD to create a comprehensive eye safety plan for your workplace.
If you or loved one has been injured in an accident, Jacobs & Wallace is here to seek justice for you. Contact our knowledgeable team of personal injury attorneys for a free consultation and to review all of your options for fighting back.