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Consider that an estimated 1,000 eye injuries occur every day in American workplaces. More than 800,000 on-the-job eye injuries are reported every year, 36,000 of which require time off work, Potential eye hazards can be found in nearly every industry! Add up all the lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation claims, and the estimated cost of these injuries is as high as $300 million per year. That's not exactly spare change, and it doesn't even begin to touch the pain and suffering of eye injuries and vision loss.
As a reminder, eye injury prevention starts with wearing effective eye protection. Anyone working in or passing through an area where there are potential hazards to eyes should be wearing safety eyewear. To be most effective, eye protection should be both appropriate for the situation and properly fitted. For instance, a worker wearing a face shield should also be wearing safety glasses or goggles underneath the shield as primary eye protection. Goggles provide the best level of protection.
This poster explains why chemical splash goggles are the only appropriate eye protection when working with chemicals that can harm the eyes. Chemical splash goggles can be "indirect-vented" or "unvented." In general, the indirectly vented style is sufficient for most uses and is less likely to fog up. Goggles and safety glasses that have an anti-fog coating built in cost only a few cents more per pair than standard goggles and glasses. It is well worth the extra cost.
What contributes to eye injuries at work?
- Not wearing eye protection when required.
- Wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job.
What causes eye injuries?
- Flying particles.
- Contact with chemicals.
- Contact with other objects swinging from a fixed or attached position (e.g. tree limbs, ropes, chains, or other tools).
Where do accidents occur most often?
- Craft work areas (e.g. mechanics, repair men, carpenters, and plumbers)
- Industrial equipment areas (e.g. assembly workers, sanders, grinders)
- Laborers, largely in manufacturing and construction industries
How can eye injuries be prevented?
- Complete a Hazard Assessment for your workplace that identifies the appropriate PPE for use in your area. Visit the following S&WC website for more information on Hazard PPE.
- Workers should have regular eye exams to ensure their eyesight is adequate to perform their jobs safely.
- Always wear appropriate and effective eye protection devices as noted in your area's Hazard Assessment results! Be sure to wear the right kind of eye protection for the job! Safety glasses and goggles marked "ANSI Z87" should be worn at all times when eye hazards are present.
- If you wear prescription glasses, ask your supervisor if prescription safety glasses or goggles can be provided. Refer to the State of North Carolina requirements for replacing prescription safety glasses.
- Eye protection devices must be properly maintained! Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents. If you work with chemicals or other materials that may splash or become embedded in your eyes, be sure your area is equipped with Emergency Eyewash devices and Safety Showers as needed. Workers should know the location of the nearest eyewash station and safety shower and receive appropriate training. Refer to the Emergency Eye Wash Requirements for information on safety eyewashes. Refer to Emergency Shower Devices for information concerning safety showers.
Eye protection works!
It is estimated that 90% of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear.
Contact the Environmental Health Safety & Emergency Managment Department at Extension 4008 if you have questions or would like to schedule eye safety training or a hazard assessment in your area.