Statistics suggest that every day, as many as 2000 U.S. workers sustain a work-related eye injury. Shockingly, it is estimated that around 90% of these injuries could potentially be avoided if the worker was wearing adequate eye protection. Instead, workers can expect to need to take several days off of work to recover – something which could cost their employer in lost productivity, medical fees, and even compensation.
Workplace eye injuries can occur in any line of work, however, nearly half happen in the construction, manufacturing and mining industries. It is the responsibility of your employer to ensure that all workers are supplied with the necessary protective eyewear to perform their jobs safely and without risk to the health or condition of any area of their body, including their eyes. Failing to do so will put you at risk of serious and permanent injury, which has the potential to cause you to become unable to work, triggering financial hardship and psychological problems including anxiety and depression.
Some types of eye injuries are more common than others. Some of the most frequently seen eye injuries sustained at work include the following:
The majority of eye injuries come into this category and occur in one of two ways. Firstly, when small fragments or objects scrape the surface of the eye, causing abrasions but not actually penetrating it. Secondly, if the worker experiences a blunt force trauma to the eye, such as being hit with an object.
These injuries occur when something enters the eye and penetrates the eyeball. This could include flying objects such as fragments of wood, glass or metal, nails, staples and more. Unsurprisingly, these have the ability to be incredibly damaging to your vision.
These types of injuries can occur directly – such as if your eyes get too close to a heat source or a chemical gets sprayed directly into them, or by transfer. A transfer is when you get some chemical on your hands/gloves and you then touch your eyes. Both are equally as hazardous and can cause extensive damage to the eyes and surrounding tissue and could put you at risk of temporary or permanent vision loss.
Protective eyewear is available two different types, but multiple styles are then available within these types. These are safety glasses and safety goggles.
Safety glasses are usually sufficient for the majority of workers who require eye protection. They comprise of safety frames, lenses and side shields which ensure that objects cannot get in the sides of the glasses and cause damage to your eyes.
Safety goggles are required when you need complete protection from all elements in the area as they are fully sealed against your eyes around the top, sides, and bottom. This 360-degree coverage ensures that nothing can reach your eyes.
Good protective eyewear will have an impact rating which shows how much force it can withstand before breaking. For example, low impact eyewear is said to be able to withstand impact from an object moving at 12 meters per second, whilst the highest impact protection will withstand impact from an object moving up to 190 meters per second.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of eye protection in the workplace, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team of professionals.