Every day, the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates 2,000 employees incur work related eye injuries. The fact is that particles of any size can become tiny projectiles ready to penetrate the your eye, and eye injuries can happen in any work environment. In fact, a few years ago an office worker learned this firsthand when he sustained a papercut on his eye – which is as horrifying as it sounds. Fortunately most injuries are not serious, but the risk of permanent loss of vision exists in almost 20% of all eye related accidents. Three out of every five workers who sustains an eye injury on the job were not wearing adequate eye protection. Many of these workers report that they believed protection was not required for the job, or that they thought they had adequate eye protection. An experienced Safety Supervisor can educate workers on the Personal Protective Equipment required to safely do their job. The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace.
Protection from Impact Hazards:
The most common eye hazards in field are Impact Hazards. OSHA advises that while workers are in an environment with flying objects such as large chips, fragments, particles, sand and dirt, they wear protection that surrounds the eye. Prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses do not provide enough protection.
- Spectacles – Primary protectors to shield the eyes from a variety of impact hazards.
- Goggles – Primary protectors to shield the eyes against flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles.
- Face Shields – Secondary protectors to protect the entire face against exposure to impact hazards.
Accidents happen on the job site, so it’s important for workers to know a few basic ways to treat injuries.
- Don’t try to remove anything embedded in the eye. You could cause more damage.
- Don’t pull or squeeze the eye. Cover it and get medical attention immediately.
Protection from Heat Hazards:
The Splash of molten metal, hot sparks from welding, heat related injuries can occur when workers are exposed to high temperatures.
- Spectacles – Primary protectors to shield the eyes from a variety of heat hazards.
- Goggles – Primary protectors to shield the eyes from a variety of heat hazards.
- Face Shields – Secondary protectors to protect the entire face from a variety of heat hazards.
Also, choosing PPE with anti-fog coating can increase visibility and safety while working in environments in high-heat situations.
Protection from Chemical Hazards:
Splash, fumes, vapors and irritating mists commonly occur in acid and chemical handling, degreasing, plating and working with blood. OSHA Recommends:
- Goggles – Primary protectors to shield the eyes against liquid or chemical splash, irritating mists, vapors, and fumes.
- Face Shields – Secondary protectors intended to protect the entire face against exposure to chemical hazards.
If you are exposed to dangerous chemicals there are a few tips that can help alleviate irritation and hopefully reduced the effects of your exposure.
- I know it’s instinct, but don’t squeeze your eyes shut. Hold them open with thumb and index finger.
- Find an eyewash station and flood eyes with cool, clean water for 15-20 minutes.
- Get medical attention immediately. Have the chemical container and its label available for evaluation.
- Don’t use another chemical to neutralize the spilled chemical.
Protection from Dust Hazards:
Harmful dust commonly created by woodworking, buffing and dusty conditions. OSHA Recommends:
- Goggles – Primary protectors to protect the eyes against a variety of airborne particles and harmful dust.
Protection from Optical Radiation Hazards:
Choosing the correct filter for your helmet depends on the task, the intensity of visible light and radiant energy produced by welding operations varies. “Welders Flash” is a painful inflammation to the outer layer of the cornea, and it occurs when workers are exposed to ultraviolet light from welding operations.
- Consider the intensity of the light or heat. Then, select lenses and/or filters that provide protection while allowing the task to be completed. When selecting filter lenses, begin a shade too dark to see the welding zone. Then try lighter shades until one allows a sufficient view of the welding zone without going below the minimum protective shade.
Ensure a Proper Fit
It’s not enough to just wear eye protection, you need to make sure that the eye protection correctly fits your face to provide complete protection. Safety glasses should rest firmly on top of the nose and close to your face. Safety glasses should have a three-point fit, meaning the frame should touch the face in three places – at the nose bridge and behind each ear. Temples should wrap around the head, with slight pressure behind the ear, not above the ear.