Monday, December 4, 2023

Eye Injuries In The Workplace

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Causes Of Eye Injuries At Work

Eye Safety – Safety Eyewear – Eye Injury Prevention
  • Chemical splashes: If you work with or around chemicals, you know they can splash, including on the face and into the eyes, causing burns. Chemical burns can be serious and even lead to blindness in severe cases.
  • Impact injuries from tools: Industrial and construction worksites are one of the most common sites of eye injuries in the workplace. Eye injuries can also occur when using certain tools at work, such as welding equipment, power tools, and lawn equipment.
  • Foreign objects in the eye: Flying wood, metal chips, and other debris in the air or on the hands can make its way into the eye. Injuries from foreign objects can lead to scratches and corneal abrasions. Common types of work activities that lead to foreign objects in the eyes include sawing, masonry work, and chipping. Drilling, sanding, and woodworking can also lead to injuries from flying debris.
  • Blood splashes: Medical workers, first responders, and police officers often come into contact with blood. Blood that splashes into the eye can transmit diseases, such as hepatitis, HIV, and staph infections.
  • Radiation exposure: Certain jobs may involve working around radiation. Radiation exposure to the eye can lead to burns and permanent damage if proper precautions are not taken.

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Risk Factors For Eye Injuries

Factors in the workplace that increase the risk of eye injury may include:

  • The employer doesnt supply any eye protection.
  • The employer supplies eye protection, but workers wont wear it.
  • The employer doesnt enforce the use of eye protection or train the workers in how to use protection equipment.
  • Neither the employer nor the workers appreciate the potential for injury and dont think to use eye protection.
  • The eye protection is inadequate, such as the use of glasses when the job requires a face shield.
  • The eye protection doesnt fit properly for example, the glasses are loose and allow particles to enter from the sides.
  • Only the operator of the machine wears eye protection, so anyone in the vicinity who is not wearing eye protection is at risk from flying particles.
  • The workers dont know how to properly operate the equipment or tools.
  • The equipment isnt maintained in good repair.
  • Work involves the use of metal on metal, such as hammer and chisel injuries.

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Preventing Eye Injury Workplace Accidents

Once the eyes are injured, it may not be possible to recover your vision completely or at all. Minor damage can be fixed in many cases, but others whose eyes are hurt at work and other locations might never regain their sight. This is why it is critical to protect your eyes when working at home or at your place of employment.

How To Recognize Damage To The Eye

Eye Injuries In the Workplace [Infographic]

Knowing the signs of an eye injury or illness is very important because the sooner that a condition is diagnosed and treated, the less likely the patient is to lose their vision or eye. Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in vision
  • Reduced movement in the eye
  • Bleeding in any part of the eye
  • A change in pupil size or shape
  • Sensitivity to light
  • An inability to close or open the eyelids completely
  • Swelling around the eye socket
  • A feeling of something foreign in the eye
  • Constant tearing

Many injured workers suffer from common injuries such as:

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Eye Injuries In The Workplace That Are Preventable

For most of us, our jobs are routine. The tasks we perform each day are ones we are accustomed to. Were good at them, and we dont feel as though were at risk of injury when were working, even if we know a risk does exist. Were more scared about our lunch being stolen from the breakroom fridge than a shard of rogue mechanical pencil lead.

Being comfortable in your job is important, but sometimes it can lead to complacency. Safety precautions you once took may seem unnecessary, or you might simply forget to protect yourself in a dangerous situation.

Protecting Your Eyes At Work

Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection can lessen the severity or even prevent 90% of these eye injuries.

Chemicals or foreign objects in the eye and scratches on the cornea are common eye injuries that occur at work. Other common eye injuries come from fluids splashed in the eye, burns from steam and ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure.

In addition, health care workers, laboratory and janitorial staff, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases from eye exposure. Some infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye. This can occur through direct contact with splashes of blood, respiratory droplets generated during coughing, or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects.

Workers experience eye injuries on the job for two major reasons:

  • They were not wearing proper eye protection.
  • They were wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.
  • A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. These workers most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation.

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    How Can You Prevent Eye Injuries At Work

    The most important thing you can do to protect your vision at work is to always follow the recommended safety measures on the equipment you are using. Also, wear appropriate protective eyewear, which can prevent more than 90% of serious eye injuries.

    Here are more measures you can follow to protect your eyes from Prevent Blindness:

    • Know the eye safety dangers at work and complete an eye hazard assessment with your management team.
    • Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls.
    • Use proper eye protection.
    • Use shaded filter lenses such as goggles, face shields, welding helmets, or a combination of equipment to prevent flash burns.

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    You dont have to wield a hammer or a blow torch to be at risk of getting injured on the job. Simply sitting behind a computer for long periods can be damaging to your eyes.

    If you work in a high-risk environment, your employer has likely made you aware of the risk to your eyes and instructed you to wear safety glasses or goggles while you perform your tasks. However, not all workplace environments require employers to provide you with safety equipment, even if theres a risk to your eyes.

    Here are five ways you could sustain an eye injury while youre working:

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    Eye Safety Injury And Illness Data

    Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnessesexternal iconThe Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts an annual survey of employers to assess nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in U.S. private industry. Eye injury statistics are provided for OSHA recordable incidents that involve days away from work . BLS has provided summaries for 2002external icon and 2004external icon.

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    How To Protect Your Eyes In The Workplace

    About 2,000 U.S. workers each year sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe that proper eye protection can keep you safe and lessen the severity of eye injuries by up to 90%. Here are some tips to prevent eye injuries and what to do if you are injured on the job.

    Potential Risks to Eye Safety

    Chemicals or foreign objects in the eye and scratches on the cornea are common eye injuries that occur at work. Other common eye injuries come from fluids splashed in the eye, burns from steam, and ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure.

    How to Eliminate Eye Safety Risk

    Its essential that every workplace regardless of industry or size prioritizes a safe environment for all employees. Hopkins Medicine suggests the following steps be taken to ensure safe working conditions:

    – Educate and train all employees on the dangers specific to your workplace.

    – Instill procedures that encourage safety throughout the workplace. This should include information on where protective equipment, first-aid kits, and emergency eye wash stations are located.

    – Ensure employees working in hazardous environments have access to and are always wearing eye safety equipment.

    – Install barriers such as shields in areas prone to flying debris and dust.

    What to Do When Youve Been Injured

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    Common Reasons Safety Eyewear Isn’t Being Worn:

    It’s unwearable.

    Cheaply made safety eyewear becomes more of a distraction than a means of protection. Pressure, pinching and slipping points create an ergonomic nightmare for workers, and protective eyewear ends up on top of workers’ heads or in their pockets instead of over their eyes.

    It’s “unnecessary.”

    Despite decades of reported eye injury experiences and how to prevent them, human ignorance and resistance are still big problems. Many workers think of eye protection as unnecessary and choose to not wear their required eye protection.

    It’s fogging.

    In a recent study with manufacturing, construction, service, and retail workers, 100% of participants reported fogging as a major factor for not wearing their PPE on the job. They can’t see with the fogged-up eyewear, so naturally, they take them off. In the same study, 55% said that if their safety eyewear had working anti-fogging technology, they’d comply with wearing it.

    It’s uncool.

    Let’s face it, safety eyewear doesn’t always have the most glamorous look. Everyone likes to wear things they feel good in, so it’s no surprise that safety eyewear falls to the wayside for some.

    Remember, the best eye protection is the protection that’s worn. And it’s not just about protecting your eyes, it’s about protecting your most critical sense your sight.

    Work Related Eye Conditions

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    Chemical eye burns

    Both highly acidic and highly alkaline substances are toxic to the eye and cause chemical eye burns if they come into contact with the surface of the eye. Alkaline substances present the greatest risk. Such substances are most commonly found in the workplace, for example in laboratory chemicals or industrial cleaning products.

    Invasion of foreign bodies

    The eye/s may sometimes be invaded by small foreign particles which can cause irritation and inflammation. While foreign particles rarely cause lasting damage to the eyes, prompt removal of irritating particles is necessary to avoid permanent eye damage or scarring.

    Blunt trauma injuries

    Blunt trauma injuries to the eye occur as a result of being struck by a heavy object. They can cause the eye to bleed internally.

    Allergic conjunctivitis

    Allergic conjunctivitis is common amongst workers in the food handling and agricultural sectors who are regularly exposed to particular spices, fruits and vegetables. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation is associated with working in an outdoor industry and also increases the risk of allergic conjunctivitis.

    Eye diseases associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure

    Artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation are also found in a range of workplaces and can damage the eyes. These include welding arcs, germicidal lamps and lasers. Thus the above mentioned diseases can also occur as a result of occupational exposure to artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation.

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    Learn About Eye Injury Prevention Month

    Eye injuries are reported every day in the workplace. Some eye injuries could lead to partial or complete vision loss, which is why Nevada Eye Physicians stresses the importance of workplace safety. During Eye Injury Prevention Month, we encourage you to schedule an eye examination in Boulder City, Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite, and Pahrump, NV. Our clinic can inform you about computer eye strain and other physical injuries.

    About Eye Safety At Work

    Most eye injuries in Australia are minor, but some workplace accidents can result in serious injury, vision loss or blindness. Any job that involves airborne particles or hazardous substances, carries a risk of eye injury. Handling chemicals under high pressure or managing a strap under tension, which may suddenly release, are added risks.

    The eye is extremely delicate and permanent vision loss can result from a relatively minor injury.

    Ordinary eye wear doesnt adequately protect you against injury. In fact, contact lenses may make an eye injury worse. In Australia, men of working age are most at risk of serious eye injuries.

    The risk of workplace eye injuries is reduced if proper prevention measures are followed. Pay attention to your working environment and always wear eye protection when youre required to do high-risk work.

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    Essential Steps For Prevention Of Eye Injuries

    Now its time to look for ways to eliminate or minimize the hazard.

    • Engineering controls can help protect your workers from eye injury
    • Placement of machine guards, safety screens, and shields can reduce the risk of foreign particles entering the eye during grinding, drilling, or handling liquids
    • Make sure employees have the proper training on both the tools they will be using, and the equipment they will use to keep themselves safe
    • Make sure that when doing jobs that are hazardous, others are directed to stay out of the area to minimize risk to them

    If all your pre-planning and engineering controls still require the use of eye protection, make sure of two things that it is the right eye protection for the job, and that the eye protection is in excellent condition for use.

    • Safety glasses should have no visible cracks or scratches, and the side shields or straps should be in good condition to help hold them firmly in place
    • When using safety goggles, make sure that there is a proper fit around the eyes, and that the seals are pliable and soft so they make a firm seal
    • Face shields are typically used for liquid handling and transfer, and also for some grinding and drilling applications
    • Safety glasses or goggles may be required under the face shields
    • The face shields themselves may be part of a helmet, or with an elastic band only to hold them in place
    • Special optical filter equipment should always be worn when welding or working with lasers

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    At first, perhaps you were so enamored with the free coffee and sweet parking space at your job that you diligently and proudly strapped on that uncomfortable PPE. You wore those grimy, sweat imprints from the safety goggles indented in your forehead to the bar after work with pride. However, a few months later, you just kinda got tired of it.

    The gear you were supposed to wear was bulky, awkward, and made you feel lame . Whether its a pair of too-tight hiking boots or a pair of dollar-bin safety glasses, if you hate them, you wont wear them. If you dont wear them, they cant protect you.

    Consider this: you love your fluffy dinosaur pajamas and your vintage leather jacket. You wear them because they make you feel good about yourself, and they themselves feel good comfort is key. Despite what the 1950s fashion magazines said, beauty isnt pain, and we shouldnt suffer through it. Thats why we need protective eyewear that looks as good as it feels.

    Each year, thousands of workers suffer eye-related injuries on the job. The fact that most of these injuries are preventable tells us that we can do better in providing our employees with better safety equipment and making sure they know how and when to use it.

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    Why Are Construction Workers Exposed To More Eye Hazards

    Every year, more than 10,600 construction workers suffer eye injuries that force them to miss work. This is not surprising as many of the tools referred to earlier often have points and sharp edges that can impact the eyes. Airborne dust, dirt, small metal shavings, small rocks, and other debris can also blow through the air and into the eyes, and are generally found at most construction sites. Work like sanding, sawing, and chiseling only increases the amount of contaminants in the air.

    Construction equipment like welding tools, blowtorches, and furnaces create extreme temperatures, with resulting sparks and heat that can injure the eyes. Another hazard on construction sites is the different chemicals that are often used, like fuels and acids. If these kinds of chemicals penetrate the eyes, they can lead to permanent injuries and fatalities. The fumes they produce can also hamper your ability to see temporarily or forever. Yet even with these dangers present, many workers might not wear appropriate eye protection or have it on at all.

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