Eye Injuries in the Workplace and How to Avoid Them

Eye Protection

Hi everyone, Happy Monday. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day about 2000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days of lost work. You might not realize it but eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.

As part of Arbill's mission to ensure that every worker goes home safe at the end of every day, we are offering the following tips:

Watch out for danger - Identify workplace hazards: Eye injuries can be caused by many different hazards including impact, heat, chemicals, dust and optical radiation. Conduct a hazard assessment to determine the risk of hazards. See our Blog dated October 22nd, 2012 on Identifying Health & Safety Hazards for more information.

Select appropriate eye protection: According to OSHA, 90% of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Eyewear must protect against the specific hazards employees will encounter and be properly fitted to the individual. Different styles have varying levels of comfort and must help protect certain eye dangers. Come back to Wednesday's Blog on how to select appropriate eye protection.

Provide regular training:  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 60% of workers sustaining eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time. According to OSHA, employers must provide PPE training for each employee who is required to use PPE in the workplace.  Use training as an opportunity to highlight eye injury statistics and workplace hazards, demonstrate how and when to wear eye protection, and how to properly care for eyewear. Training should also provide guidelines for proper emergency response in the event that an eye injury occurs.

Inspection / Remove ineffective eyewear: Inspection of eye protection (and all safety supplies) must be performed on a regular basis.  Worn out, sweat soaked, loose or twisted headbands don't hold eye protectors in the proper position.  Replace eyewear that scratches easily, is not anti-glare, fits poorly, or is uncomfortable for employees. Workers may be hesitant to wear eyewear if it reduces their ability to perform their job or is uncomfortable. Additionally, set up a schedule for inspecting eyewear for cracks or loose frames and throw away damaged PPE.

Signage / Promote PPE compliance through visual reminders: Safety signage reminds workers of specific hazards, the importance of using eyewear and proper emergency response. Place posters and signs near machinery, chemicals and in common areas such as break rooms. Make sure text is supplemented with pictures to warn employees whose first language may not be English.

Provide emergency treatment options: Employers are required by OSHA to install emergency eye wash stations. Eyewash stations should be placed within 10 seconds of eye hazards to help flush eyes and relieve irritation. Clean equipment every few months or more often if necessary to maintain water and solution levels. Keep eye drops, eye wash, and gauze stocked in first aid cabinets that are easily accessible.

As part of our mission to ensure that every worker goes home safe at the end of every day, Arbill has developed programs to help employers protect their employees in a hassle free way.  Visit Arbill.com for more information.  Be sure to subscribe to the Arbill Safety BLOG or visit us on Wednesday for information on how to select appropriate eye protection.