This post was written by Josh Hancey, Safety Director and member of the Risk Management team at Helpside.    

There are over 2,000 eye-related injuries in the US each day and approximately 1/3 of these injuries require emergency care/treatment. According to the eye health and safety organization, Prevent Blindness America, wearing proper eye protection can prevent 90% of all eye injuries.  

Here is everything you need to know about eye safety in the workplace:   

How do eye injuries occur?  

Striking or scarping: Most eye-related injuries result from small particles or objects (i.e., dust, cement chips, metals shavings, wood chips, etc.) striking the eye. 

Penetration: When employees encounter objects like nails, screws, staples, etc. that could penetrate the eye, causing permanent damage.  

Chemical/thermal burns: When chemicals are splashed or sprayed into the eye when cleaning or applying chemicals. Welding without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) can also cause severe damage to the eyes.  

It can be hard to predict when employees will need safety glasses/goggles, so most employers require them to wear PPE, including safety glasses. 

What type of glasses should employees wear?  

The type of safety glasses ultimately depends on the task. All safety eyewear should be clearly marked “ANSI Z87.” If small shavings, saw dust, or debris is generated and can become airborne, consider using safety goggles over glasses.  

Safety eyewear should be regularly inspected and cleaned. Replace the eyewear if it is damaged or has large scratches that affect vision. If any employees have reduced vision, they should use prescription safety glasses/goggles.   

Avoid cheap safety glasses. Often the cheaper safety glasses are the most uncomfortable and often foggy. Seek safety eye wear that meets the ANSI Z87 standards because they will be more comfortable and have anti-fog features. 

When is wearing a face shield necessary?  

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.133(a) (1) The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Employees should wear safety glasses and a face shield when: welding, using a chainsaw, working with/around dangerous chemical, and any type of grinder.  

Importance of eye washing stations   

Eye washing stations are a great way to effectively remove chemicals, dust/debris, and other foreign objects from your eyes. Installing permanent eye washing stations along with training your employees on how to use them is a great way to prevent a serious eye injury. For employees that that are on the road, mobile eye washing stations, or an aerosol bio med wash can may be used.  

Remember that a serious eye injury can lead to a complete loss of vision. Even though safety glasses can often be uncomfortable and may seem like a hassle, it is important to enforce their use to keep your employees safe. If you have any questions regarding safety, contact our Safety Director and member of the Risk Management team, Joshua Hancey, at jhancey@helpside.com.