According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 workplace eye injuries happen each year. These injuries range from simple eye strain to severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, partial vision loss or blindness. Many of these injuries could have been prevented if the worker had used proper protective eyewear and followed appropriate safety measures.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has identified five major dangers to your eyes. They include:
- Impact – flying objects and particles;
- Heat – anything that gives off dangerous heat;
- Chemicals – flashes, fumes and vapors;
- Dust – otherwise harmless particulates that can damage sensitive eyes; and
- Optical radiation – everything from simple glare to intense light.
There are three things you can do to help prevent eye injury:
- Know the eye hazards at your worksite.
- When possible, eliminate the hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls.
- Use the proper eye protection. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear.
Ensure your safety glasses fit properly. According to OSHA Standard 1926.102, your safety glasses should meet the following requirements:
- Provide adequate protection against the particular hazards for which they are designed.
- Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions.
- Fit snugly and not unduly interfere with your movements.
- Be durable and capable of being disinfected.
- Be easily cleaned.
Clean your safety glasses daily, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Store them in a case when they are not being worn. Replace glasses that are scratched, pitted, broken, bent or ill-fitting.
Use only safety glasses that are manufactured to meet the American National Standards Institute’s Z87.1 Eye and Face Protection Standard.