Protecting your vision at work—the importance of workplace safety glasses
Versant Health is proud to celebrate National Manufacturing Day by bringing awareness to the importance of eye safety in the workplace. Workplace safety is essential in sectors such as manufacturing, mining and construction, where nearly 40% of eye injuries happen.
Every day roughly 2000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. These injuries can cause severe trauma, vision loss and even blindness. In fact, workplace eye injuries cost an estimated $300 million a year in lost productivity, medical treatment and workers’ compensation. Yet, of the more than 20,000 eye injuries that occur in the workplace every year, 90% could have been prevented by using appropriate safety glasses.
Common types of eye injuries in the workplace
Some of the most common types of eye injuries that occur in the workplace include:
- Invasion of foreign bodies: The majority of eye injuries occur from small foreign particles such as dust, cement chips, metal slivers, and wood chips scraping or flying into the eye, causing irritation and inflammation.
- Blunt trauma injuries: These injuries are the result of being struck by objects like nails, staples, or slivers of wood that can go through the eye and cause the eye to bleed internally. These injuries can often result in permanent loss of vision.
- Chemical and thermal burns: Substances such as industrial chemicals or cleaning products can cause chemical burns to the eye. Thermal burns can also cause severe damage to the eyes and surrounding tissue.
How to prevent eye injuries in the workplace
Employers and employees can work together to help prevent eye injuries in the workplace.
- Workers should always wear protective eyewear such as safety glasses, goggles, face shields or full-face respirators.
- The protective equipment chosen should depend upon the work situation and the extent of the hazard or exposure.
- Eye protection should be comfortable, allow for peripheral vision, provide the appropriate coverage, and fit each individual or be adjustable.
- Employers should make sure the appropriate controls are in place to reduce eye injuries and harmful exposures.
- Conducting a hazard assessment will help to determine the proper types of safety eyewear for each situation.
Choosing the right protective eyewear
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that safety eyewear should depend upon the nature and extent of the hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the individual’s vision needs, and any other protective equipment used.
- Safety glasses with side shields are appropriate for individuals that work around particles, flying objects or dust.
- Goggles should be worn by workers handling chemicals.
- Specially designed safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets should be used by those working near hazardous radiation, such as welding, lasers or fiber optics.
All protective eyewear should comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for eye and face protection. Safety equipment should also meet the standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In celebration of National Manufacturing Day, Versant Health reminds employees and employers alike that the most important thing you can do for your vision is to preserve the gift of sight by wearing safety eyeglasses in the workplace!