March is Workplace Eye Safety and Health Month—an appropriate time to reflect on the fact that about 2,200 American and Canadian workers suffer eye injuries every day.
According to Prevent Blindness America, 10 to 20 percent of work-related eye injuries cause temporary or permanent vision loss.
The good news is that up to 90 percent of work-related eye injuries could be avoided if the right eye protection was used.
Common causes for eye injuries include:
Flying objects, such as metal or glass bits Tools Particles Chemicals Harmful radiation
Prevent Blindness America recommends that supervisors/safety directors complete eye hazard assessments and then work to eliminate these hazards using machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls. For additional protection, workers should also use appropriate safety eyewear, which includes non-prescription/prescription safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets and full-face respirators.
If hazards include the presence of particles, dust or flying objects, workers must, at a minimum, wear safety glasses with side shields. If chemicals are present, workers need to wear goggles and if employees are working near hazardous radiation sources (lasers, welding or fiber optics) they must wear special-purpose eyewear, such as face shields, goggles or helmets.
Supervisors must not only consider the possibility of eye injuries to employees whose jobs directly expose them to eye hazards, but also to workers from other areas, such as office staff, and customers or clients.