From the Mercy Occupational Medicine October eNewsletter
Each year, thousands of people are blinded by workplace-related injuries that could be prevented with the proper use of eye and face protection. Though October is Home Eye Safety month, it is also a good time for a refresher on eye safety in the workplace.
Whenever necessary, eye and face protection must be provided to employees to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards. Here are a few things employers can do to help prevent an eye injury in the workplace:
- Eliminate hazards by using machine guards, work screens or other engineering controls.
- Regularly inspect workplace conditions for hazards.
- Provide training for when and how to wear safety eyewear.
- Provide eyewash stations, especially in areas where chemicals exist.
- Require employees to wear appropriate safety eyewear, even if they are just passing through a potentially hazardous area.
- Keep safety eye wear in good condition and replace when necessary.
Workers wearing protective eyewear may still suffer injuries, so it is a good idea to regularly inspect workplace conditions and make adjustments as necessary. Workers in environments with the following hazards should always wear appropriate safety eye wear to avoid potential injury:
- Dust, concrete, metal and other particles
- Chemicals such as acids, bases, fuels, solvents, lime and wet or dry cement powder
- Falling or shifting debris, building materials and glass
- Smoke and noxious or poisonous gases
- Welding light and electrical arcs
- Thermal hazards and fires
- Bloodborne pathogens (hepatitis or HIV) from blood, body fluids and human remains
There are many different types of eye safety wear—safety glasses, face shields, full respirators, etc.—but basic safety goggles should be the minimum requirement in any situation where a worker may encounter a workplace hazard. A little can go a long way to protect your workers—and yourself—from a job-related eye injury.
Source: OSHA, NIOSH