Eye injuries are a common occurrence in US workplaces. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2,000 workers suffer eye-related injuries every day. Common workplace eye injuries include scrapes, penetration, and burns. Severe eye injuries can cause temporary or permanent blindness. Fortunately, you prevent eye injuries at the workplace by wearing appropriate eye protection and enforcing safety protocols and training.
Appropriate Eye Protection
To prevent eye injuries at the workplace, the Occupational Safety Hazards Administration (OSHA) has established strict standards for eye and face protection. Employers must ensure that their employees in certain occupations and conditions wear equipment to protect from:
- Flying particles
- Molten metal
- Liquid chemicals
- Caustic liquids
- Chemical gases and vapors
- Potentially injurious light radiation
Protection may include shields, goggles, prescription protective glasses, protective glasses over prescription lenses, and filter lenses. The appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for eye protection depends on the work industry.
The goal of OSHA eye and face PPE standards is to ensure eye and face protection while maintaining maximum visibility or field of view.
Eye Protection Should Fit Comfortably
When a worker must wear protective eye equipment all day, it is important that the equipment is comfortable and fits securely. Equipment that slides around can expose the eye to harmful substances or conditions. When the equipment does not fit well, your employees may feel uncomfortable and decide not to wear the equipment at all.
You can boost compliance with OSHA regulations and workplace eye safety policies by making sure that eye protection is fit for the individual. Each employee should be able to wear eye protection comfortably with other PPE and prescription glasses. Eye protection should also be adjustable to ensure optimal coverage with adequate peripheral vision.
Regular Eye Examinations
Regular eye examinations can reduce the potential for eye injuries and other workplace incidents. Use this opportunity to see whether employees can comfortably see through their goggles, masks, shields, and other PPE. When they can see clearly without their glasses askew or fogged up, they are more likely to use their protective equipment properly.
Consistent Workplace Eye Protection Requirements
Employers must adhere to OSHA standards for face and eye PPE by creating an overarching eye protection policy that applies to all employees in a certain position or area.
For example, a manufacturing facility can require all employees entering the welding area to wear protective lenses or shields that meet OSHA shading standards. Workplace eye protection requirements may extend to workers who need eye protection from flying objects or for eye strain from long periods spent before a computer screen.
Employee Eye PPE Training
Training is critical for employees to understand the importance of eye protection. OSHA offers occupational training toolbox talks for general eye and face protection. To ensure that your employees are using the right PPE and protective techniques for the facility, employers should have safety training specific to the company’s objectives.
Reduced Risky Conditions in the Workplace
Employers can reduce the risk of eye injuries by:
- Using newer equipment with more safety features, such as shields and windows
- Obstructing walls and shields can reduce the risk of flying materials
- Cutting down on the amount of dust and particulate matter in the air with well-placed filtration and ventilation Established Eye Injury First-Aid Stations
First aid is often crucial for saving someone’s eyesight. Employers should place eyewash stations strategically around high-risk areas and ensure that employees know where these stations are and how to use them.
In addition, employers can keep eyewash stations well-stocked with up-to-date medical supplies and inspect the equipment regularly so the wash stations work properly.
Comprehensive Safety Policies to Prevent Eye Injuries
Employers should establish standard policies for eye protection. With standardized eye protection policies throughout the workplace, employees will automatically know where and when they should use eye protection.
They should also review and update safety policies regularly to account for new employees, changes in the workplace, and updates to OSHA regulations.
Appropriate Lighting and Screen Guards
While many companies understand the need for protective eye equipment in labs and physical work areas, employees at computer workstations must also remain vigilant. Bright lighting can glare off the surface of a computer screen, causing eye strain and fatigue.
You can reduce the potential for glare-related issues by positioning the screen away from lights, reducing glare from light sources, and adding a glare filter to the screen.
Quality PPE for Employee Eye Safety
You may be tempted to go with a less expensive, one-size-fits-all option for your employee’s eye protection. This route can cost you in the long run if it compromises employee visibility and protection. Take the time to review the best eye protection for your industry and consider using technological advancements that could enhance employee safety.
Eye care technology that could boost your employees’ PPE quality includes:
- Anti-glare coating
- Anti-scratch coating
- Fog-resistant materials
- Impact resistance
- UV protective coatings
- Impact-resistant materials
Investing in high-quality PPE for your employees can help reduce the potential for safety issues and workplace injuries.
What to Do If You Suffer a Workplace Eye Injury
If you suffered an eye injury in the workplace, seek medical attention immediately and report the incident to your supervisor. You have a limited amount of time to file a workers’ compensation claim for your medical costs and lost wages.
If your injury results in long-term impairment or disability, you could seek additional workers’ compensation benefits, such as temporary disability, permanent disability, and vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation provides you with resources to seek education and training if you must change your job or career due to a workplace injury.
Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Assistance