Annually, more than 800,000 American workers suffer an eye injury on the job and close to 36,000 employees require time off due to eye injuries, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates, costing employers more than $300 million.
The good news is, nearly all workplace eye injuries can be prevented by wearing proper eye protection (an estimated 90 percent).
That’s why Prevent Blindness America established Workplace Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month, an annual March observation to help employers and employees see the significance of protecting vision.
While chemical burns are the most common workplace eye injury, followed by cuts, lacerations and punctures, the National Safety Council offers these workplace eye safety tips:
- Employers should perform a Hazard Assessment to determine if eye protection is required for certain operations.
- Eye protection is necessary whenever the following hazards exist in the workplace: flying particles; molten metal; liquid chemicals; acids or caustic liquids; chemical gases or vapors; potentially injurious light radiation (per 29 OSHA CFR 1910.133).
- Proper eye wash facilities should be provided if any of the above-mentioned hazards are present.
- Eye protection should conform to ANSI Z87.1-1989.
- Side protection should be provided if there is an exposure to flying particles.
- If shaded lenses are required for welding, cutting or brazing operations, the proper shade number for the type of operation should be afforded.
- Prescription lenses should be provided for safety glasses when needed, using current prescriptions.
- All employees required to wear eye protection should be trained to know when to wear it, what type of eye protection to wear, how to wear it, limits of the eye protection, and how to care and maintain the protection.