According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), about 2,000 U.S. workers injure their eyes during job-related activities, resulting in the need for medical attention.
A majority of these injuries result from small particles or objects hitting the eye. Examples include:
- Cement chips
- Metal slivers
- Wood chips
Eye injuries can also result from other causes including blunt force trauma, chemical spills and radiation flash (most commonly occurring while welding). The spread of infectious diseases via the eye can occur among a range of fields including healthcare workers, laboratory staff and veterinarians. Eye infections can be caused by direct contact with the disease or with contaminated materials afterward.
Many experts believe 90 percent of these injuries can be prevented by wearing correct eye protection.
According to the American Optometric Association, eye protection should depend on the hazards in your workplace:
- Working in an area with flying objects or particles employees should wear safety glasses with side shield protection
- Workers that use chemicals should wear goggles
- Specific safety glasses, goggles, face shield or helmet should be worn when in close proximity or working directly with radiation.
Employers should take OSHA compliance steps to ensure their workers are safe from potential eye hazards and injuries including:
- Conducting eye hazard assessments in the workplace
- Providing appropriate and functioning eye wear
- Requiring employees to wear this eye protection when necessary
- Removing or reducing eye hazards when possible.
Eye safety is a serious issue that must be adhered to for optimal employee safety. Mastery has a range of e-learning courses available for eye safety tips and injury prevention. This includes safety guidelines as well as the importance of personal worker responsibility at work sites. See the listing of courses on eye protection (and other PPE) here.