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Protect the Eyes of Your Workers

Julie Copeland

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Let’s focus on eye protection. It’s clear to me that some employers get it. They provide the 3.3-industrial-hygiene.jpgproper training and use of protective eyewear.

Unfortunately, the injury statistics tell us that so many employers don’t get it, which puts their employees (and their bottom line) at risk.

Work related eye injuries blind thousands each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. That’s 2,000 a DAY!

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. These type of injuries not only cause pain and suffering for those injured, but the costs are more than eye-opening.

These types of injuries add up to $300 million annually in worker compensation, medical expenses, and lost time in production. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of proper eye protection to prevent eye injuries for your workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific standards dealing with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Workers must be provided eye protection when hazards such as chemical, optical radiation, impact, heat, and dust are present.

It’s worth noting that the majority of eye injuries are caused by direct contact with chemicals. Chemical hazards include splashes, fumes, mists, and vapors. Optical radiation is radiant energy, intense light, or glares. Work involving lasers create intense concentrations of heat, ultraviolet, infrared, and reflected light radiation. Filtered lenses are needed in this case. Impact hazards consist of flying objects, fragments, particles, or dirt. Injuries could result as punctures, contusions, or abrasions.

When dealing with severe impact hazards, face shields are used as secondary protective devices. A heat hazard is when extreme heat is emitted. Burns to the eyes and face tissue are the main concern when facing heat hazards. Most heat hazards also require a face shield. And when harmful dust is a hazard safety, goggles that provide a protective seal are needed.

When providing PPE, employers have standards that must be met. For example, if a worker wears prescription lenses then the employer must either incorporate the prescription into the protective lenses, or provide eye protection that can go over the prescription lenses. Also, the appropriate shade number must be assigned for filters of protective eye wear when light radiation is a possible hazard. Another aspect of PPE is comfort and fit. If the eye protection is poorly fitting then it is not providing the necessary protection. Proper fit will ensure that the PPE will stay in place while in use. For protection against dust or chemical splashes then a proper fitted device should provide a seal.

Training is another requirement that employers need to provide for workers that use PPE.  Employers should also provide retraining if an employee does not demonstrate the skills required. In the case of eyewear protection, topics that are essential to cover in training include:

  • Emergency situations
  • How to properly wear safety eyewear
  • Which eyewear is necessary
  • When eyewear is required
  • Proper care of eye protection devices
  • Limitations of devices

Along with training, employers also need to create a written protection program. A procedure for PPE should be developed involving selection, fit testing, medical evaluations, training, maintenance, and storage. Not all eye protection or PPE can be used for just any situation. The proper eye protection device must be chosen based on the hazards the worker is exposed to.

At Arbill, we understand the importance of protecting eyes. We’re here to keep your employees safe and we provide a variety of PPE products to choose from to protect your workers against different hazards.  We also provide training, including online courses, on PPE. Our program addresses proper selection, hazards present, use and maintenance of PPE. We offer training on all PPE such as eye, face, foot, hand, and head protection.

To learn more about eye protection or safety training, contact us at 800.523.5367 or visit Arbill at www.arbill.com.

Have a safe day!

Topics: Arbill, eye protection, Worker safety, OSHA, eye injuries, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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