The Eyes Have It. Keep Them Safe on the Job.
October 3, 2012 Leave a comment
Every day, about 2,000 Americans get medical attention for on-the-job eye injuries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. More than 100 of those injuries cause them to miss work.
Workplace hazards that can affect the eyes include chemicals that splash or give off harmful vapors; dust and glare that limit vision; and flying objects resulting from sanding, carpentry, sawing and drilling.
Texas Mutual safety professionals recommend employers follow these tips to keep their employees seeing clearly.
Eliminating hazards is the best way to prevent accidents:
- Add equipment guards, screens and shields
- Install a ventilation system to remove dust, vapors and mists
- Keep the work area clean to reduce dust
- Fasten lids on chemical containers to prevent splashing
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, filter lenses and other equipment that provides a barrier between your employees and the hazards they encounter.
Each type of PPE is designed to protect employees against specific hazards:
- Look for PPE suggestions on Material Safety Data Sheets and the instructions for operating machinery and equipment.
- Make sure PPE fits, is comfortable and does not limit peripheral vision
- Keep PPE clean and in good condition. Inspect it before use for scratches, cracks and other signs of wear.
If employees wear glasses or contacts, consider providing:
- Safety glasses with prescription lenses (the frame and lenses must be approved by the American National Standards Institute)
- Goggles or face shields designed to be worn over glasses
Prepare for injuries
If you eliminate hazards and provide the right PPE, you can limit your employees’ exposure to eye injuries. Still, accidents can happen. You should be prepared to get prompt care for the employee:
- Provide emergency eyewash stations in all areas with risks from flying particles or chemicals
- Check the Material Safety Data Sheet for first aid instructions on each chemical you use. Post these instructions near employees who use chemicals.
- If a chemical splashes in an employee’s eyes, flush the eyes and face with water for at least 15 minutes, and then get the employee to a doctor.
- If a particle gets into an employee’s eye, flush the particle out with clean water right away. Do not rub the eyes; this may cause further damage. If the particle does not rinse out, cover the eye and get the employee to a doctor.