Eye injuries are among the most common injuries that occur in the workplace and one of the most easily preventable. Conditions that lead to eye injuries include:
- Not wearing eye protection – The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of their accident.
- Wearing the wrong kind of protection for the task – Approximately 40 percent of workers who had experienced eye injuries wore eye protection that lacked side shields. Full-cup and flat-fold side shields can help reduce the chances of eye injuries but cannot guarantee absolute safety. Tight-fitting goggles offer the most protection and should be worn when handling liquid chemical hazards.
- Flying particles -The BLS found that nearly 70 percent of the accidents studied resulted from flying or falling objects striking the eye. Almost 60 percent of objects striking workers’ eyes were smaller than a pin head. Contact with chemicals caused about 20 percent of the injuries. Other accidents were caused by objects that swung from a fixed position.
Recommended actions to enhance eye safety:
- Identify hazards and equipment: Safety goggles offer inexpensive protection, and current designs are more comfortable and offer better safeguards than previous types. Consider all potential eye hazards at the workplace and inspect existing equipment to verify it is in good condition.
- Identify barriers to using eye safety glasses: Initiate friendly conversations with employees to identify the reasons they are avoiding the use of safety glasses, such as the comfort level and fit of safety goggles available to them. Safety goggles offer inexpensive protection, and it is worth the time to remove barriers so that employees will wear safety goggles properly and consistently.
Resources for safety meetings can be found here:
- A helpful video on this topic can be found at RS SAFETY TV
- See SAFEME’s PPE module for a quick refresher on PPE
- L&I’s Eye Protection training kit can be found here
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected]