The Importance of Eye Protection in the Workplace
The human eye is one of the most valuable assets to any worker. Any job they do requires clear and functional eyesight to become more effective. However for some people, the need to protect their eyes is taken lightly. Similar to other safety prodecdures, the more often a person experiences a specific risk the less cautious they become. Despite the value it offers at work but also at home, the eyes are often overlooked and overworked.
What are the common eye injuries at work?
- Foreign objects in the eyes. This includes specks inside the eye and particles that are often floating in the air, like dirt, metal or dust.
- Cuts and punctures to the eyes. These injuries are usually caused by mishandling of work equipment, overlooked safety hazards or faulty tools.
- Chemical burns. Careless or inproper handling of harmful chemicals can cause burning of the eyeballs or the eyelids.
What are the types of safety eyewear used at work?
- Welding helmets
- Safety glasses
- Face shields
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) dictates that employers are responsible for providing employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes eye protection which includes but is not limited to; face shields, safety glasses, goggles and visors. However, not just any goggles will do. Eyewear under the PPE standards must meet the following criteria:
- Easy to clean and can withstand disinfecting
- Offer appropriate eye protection
- Quality and durable materials
- Safe design that is suitable for work and easy to use
- Used following the necessary training
- No impediment to the movement of the wearer
- Comfortable to use without any compromise on the safety procedure
- Markings are only provided by the identification of the manufacturer
Having the proper eye protection readily available for your workforce is just the first step. Making sure that you have created a culture that promotes the proper and continued use of PPE is what differentiates companies that are lagging from the ones that are leading.
OSHA regulations on eye protection
- Retraining on the proper use of eye protectors is a must for employees who may be wearing a specific eye protector for the first time or may have not worn/use any eye protection for a long period of time.
- Eye protectors must fit properly to ensure safety and comfort to the wearer. Eyewear must be sealed against the face without any loose sides or fitting. Discomfort or unfit eyewear will only discourage use among workers.
- PPE must be kept clean and in excellent sanitary standards. Lens must be free of scratches or dirt that will block the vision of the wearer. In high exposure to outdoor environment, eye protectors must be cleaned as necessary. Disinfection is necessary to multiple use of the PPE.
- Reminders must be implemented in the workplace. Signs and posters promoting the use of PPE are to be placed in common rooms to remind workers of the need to wear their eye protectors. Text must be clear and understandable to all.
- Prescription lenses must fit the requirements of employees with corrective glasses. Spare glasses must be kept on sight in case of damaged to the existing eyewear such as eyeglasses and contact lenses.
- Regular inspection of the eyewear must be performed. Inspectors will have to check for signs of damages, loose, soaked and worn out protectors. Replacement of damaged eye protectors is necessary.
- Emergency planning and tools are critical in a workplace to mitigate accidents. Injuries must be addressed quickly. Work areas must have eyewash stations in the event of any accidents relating to the eyes.