There is no shortage of excuses for not wearing eye protection: they are uncomfortable; they are dirty, they are scratched; they fog up; or you forgot to put them on. Unfortunately, every day about 2,000 U.S. workers suffer a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. About one-third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms, and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days away from work.
OSHA has identified five major dangers to your eyes.
- Dust – Common eye hazard that can scratch and cause infection.
- Flying debris – Eye injuries from debris like cement chips, metal fragments and wood particles.
- Chemicals – Eye injuries from chemical splashes, mists and vapors (gas and diesel fuel).
- Optical radiation – Welding and laser activity create high concentrations of heat, infrared and ultraviolet radiation.
- Penetration – Damage to the eye and face from hand and power tools or objects struck by a tool.
When using equipment like cut-off saws, grinders, chipping hammers and other power tools, it’s important to wear a face shield along with safety glasses. The face shield helps to prevent cast-off, high-velocity debris from impacting the eye and face. The face shield can also provide face protection should a grinding or cutting blade shatter.
All eye and face protection, such as safety glasses, goggles and face shields must be marked that they meet or exceed the test requirements of ANSI Z87.1-1989, 2003, 2010. The marking is typically located somewhere on the frame of the glasses or the lens of the face shield or goggles.
Regular prescription glasses do NOT have the level of impact protection required under ANSI Z87.1. Those people that wear prescription eyewear must either wear approved safety glasses with prescription lenses, side shields and frames that meet or exceed the ANSI Z87.1 standard or wear approved, ANSI-standard eye protection designed to be worn over their regular prescription glasses.
Should a particle or other debris get into your eyes, flush the surface with a sterile saline solution from the first aid kit, and seek medical attention. Some particles may become deeply embedded and must be removed by a physician.
EYE INJURY PREVENTION
The most important thing you can do to protect your vision at work is to always wear the correct eye and face protection for the work activity. This can prevent more than 90% of serious eye injuries, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.