Eye injuries in the workplace are very common, with about 20,000 eye injuries occurring each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). About one third of these injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments and often require one or more days of lost work. Eye injuries not only cause pain and suffering, but the costs are more than eye opening, adding up to $300 million annually in worker compensation, medical expenses, and lost production time, according to OSHA.
Eye Hazards and Injuries
Eye injuries range from simple eyestrain to severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss and blindness. Common causes of eye injuries include:
- flying objects
- exposure to chemical hazards; splashes, fumes mists and vapors
- heat and radiation
Due to the potential for vision loss, it is important to recognize the signs of an eye injury and get help right away. If a person has obvious pain or trouble seeing, has a cut or torn eyelid, the eye has unusual pupil size or shape, there is blood in the clear part of the eye, or there is something in the eye or under the eyelid that can’t easily be removed, seek medical help.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your employees and prevent eye injuries is provide appropriate protective eyewear and ensure your employees wear it. This tactic can help prevent more than 90 percent of serious eye injuries. It is key for employees to wear protective eyewear whenever there is a chance for injury. This includes anyone working or passing through areas that pose potential eye hazards.
Eyewear should be compliant with OSHA regulations, and selected based on the hazards that exist in your workplace. Goggles, face shields, safety glasses or full-face respirators must be used when an eye hazard exists and should fit each individual properly, while providing appropriate protection for the hazards present.
Importance of Quality and Comfort
When selecting your eye protection it is essential to provide protective eyewear that is compliant with ANSI/International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) Z87.1, UL and other applicable eye protection standards that cover protective spectacles, goggles and visors.
Eye protection should guard against hazards, while also providing comfort. This is a critical factor in employee acceptance and compliance. Look for comfort features such as flexible width sizes, an adjustable nose bridge and ratcheting temple hinges, which enable the wearer to customize the fit and lens angle.
Types of Eye Protection
Safety glasses shield the eyes from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips and particles. The frames are constructed of metal and/or plastic and can be fitted with either prescription or non-prescription lenses. Specialty lenses such as Anti-Fog or Polarized, offer additional protection in specific environments. Anti-Fog lenses, provide added protection to prevent fogging, which is often caused by changing temperatures. Polarized lenses are excellent for outside work, reducing glare and eyestrain while improving contrast and visual clarity.
Safety goggles shield the eyes from impact hazards and fit the face immediately surrounding the eyes, forming a protective seal. This prevents objects from entering under or around the goggles. Safety goggles are available with removable lenses and may incorporate prescription lenses mounted behind protective lenses. There are two types of safety goggle frames, eyecup and cover.
Eyecup frames cover the eye sockets completely, while cover safety goggles may be worn over corrective spectacles without disturbing them. Each of these goggles offer ventilation options, which allow air circulation while providing protection against airborne particles, dust, liquids or light. Direct and indirect ventilation prevents fogging and some protection from chemical splash entry, while non-ventilated goggles prevent splash entry but may fog and require cleaning.
Face shields protect the entire face or portions of it from impact hazards, and must be used in combination with safety glasses or goggles to ensure the eyes are protected. Face shields consist of two parts, the windows and the headgear, which are available in various combinations.
Face shield windows extend from the brow to below the chin and across the entire width of the face and are available in either removable or lift-front designs. Plastic windows protect against light impact, may include a glass insert and are available clear or filtered. Wire screen windows protect against moderate impact, may include a plastic/glass insert and are not recommended for use involving chemical or liquid hazards.
Headgear supports the window shield and secures the device to the head. Adjustable headgear includes straps that allow users to manipulate the size of the headgear to ensure the proper fit, and allows face shields to be shared. Another option is to use hard hats with face shields. These may have a window shield mounted under the visor of the hat, and works with plastic, wire-screen, lift-front or removable shields.
(plastic, wire screen etc)
Keep an Eye on Safety
It is important to educate your employees about the hazards and dangers of eye injuries, ensure employees are wearing their equipment properly and provide protective eyewear whenever there is a chance for injury. If an employee shows signs of injury, get help immediately, as there could be potential for vision loss. Focusing on providing the right training and giving your employees the proper equipment, will shield them from danger and ensure their safety.
At Arbill, we understand the importance of protecting the eyes. We’re here to keep your employees safe and we provide a variety of protective eyewear to guard against different hazards. We also provide training programs and safety experts who can work with you to identify your safety needs and develop a comprehensive program.
Contact an Arbill Safety Expert today and see how we can help you, in your pursuit of zero injuries.
Have a Safe Day!