Eye injuries are very common injuries in the workplace. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that around 2,000 people are affected by work related eye injuries that need treatment every day in the United States. And out of these 2,000 injuries, more than 100 require at least 1 day of recuperation before an employee is able to go back to work.
This is bad news for a number of reasons. Any work injuries are problematic, as they reflect an unsafe work environment. This is particularly unfortunate when it comes to eye injuries since most, if not all, of them can be avoided. Fortunately, if proper precautions are taken, there are fewer chances for accidents, which will create a safer work environment (and this will ultimately help a company maintain a more profitable bottom line, by keeping workers on the job and out of the hospital).
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a checklist to follow to ensure the safety of all workers in your facility. All of these checkpoints work towards one final ultimate goal – accident prevention:
- Create a safe work environment. Check to make sure there are no hazards in your company’s workspace, such as loose debris, which could fall and get into someone’s eyes. Schedule regular checkups of tools to ensure quality and safety of all equipment used. Also, make sure that all workers handling the machinery are properly educated in the operation of each piece of equipment.
- Check for safety hazards. Evaluate your facility for any potential hazards. Also look in the surrounding area at nearby machinery, workers or any falling or shifting debris.
- Wear proper eye safety wear. When using any tools or machinery it’s important to have eye and face coverings to protect yourself from any flying material. Be especially sure that you choose the appropriate eye coverings. Your equipment should be comfortable but still snug to prevent anything from sneaking in. If you’re unsure of the fitness of your equipment, consult with OSHA before using it. You should also make sure to clean and disinfect all equipment in between uses. Finally, perform routine checks of the safety equipment to ensure nothing has broken or cracked.
- Practice safe technique at work. In the event that there is any debris falling or flying through the air at work, make sure to brush off your head, hat, safety helmet and safety glasses before removing the glasses. Otherwise, debris may fall from your hair or hat into your eyes and cause an injury. Make sure that safety glasses are cleaned in between each use to prevent debris from settling inside the glasses/goggles and entering the eyes once they are put on. Store all safety equipment in a cabinet to prevent debris or dust from accumulating in any glasses or goggles.
- Prepare ahead of time. In the event of an accident, workers need to be prepared and educated in the appropriate responses. Additionally, by having an eye washing station on site many eye injuries can be stopped from being permanently damaging.
Accidents can happen, but they can also be prevented. Preparation is the best way to prevent one from happening, but if one does occur it’s important to know how to react to it. By knowing the proper procedure in the event of an emergency you can cut down on the time it takes to correct the problem. Educated workers will know what to do and how to react in an emergency situation so regularly holding training sessions to teach proper procedures keeps everyone informed. It’s important to always wear eye protection when on a job site and it also helps to keep a first aid kit accessible. Encourage workers to take precaution and to always wear eye protection and you can save them from serious injury.