Eye Safety Part of the Job

More than 2000 people injure their eyes at work every day.

"You never can tell when an object can hit you," said Dr. Dale Garrett of Stormont-Vail WorkCare.

He says 90-percent of all eye injuries are preventable. Wearing safety glasses is your first line of defense.

"The different types of lenses depend on exactly what you're exposed to as far as impact," Dr. Garrett said. "For chemicals, usually most always wear some kind of goggles - vented or non-vented goggles."

You also need to make sure your safety glasses are really safe. Dr. Garrett says they should have side shields and be marked with the industry standard Z87. If you work outdoors, make sure they offer UVA and UVB protection.

When you do get something in your eye, hands off!

"It does not benefit you to rub your eye," Dr. Garrett said.

If you get a chemical in your eye, immediately head for an eye wash station and seek medical attention for a complete wash with saline. Small foreign objects may work themselves out, but don't wait longer than an hour.

"If you still persist at pain or a change in vision; if it's photosensitive, light bothers it; if the wind bothers it; or if it's constantly tearing," Dr. Garrett said, "it's a good idea to be seen by an eye care professional."

Dr. Garrett says you could have a scratch on the eye that could leave permanent damage or lead to infection.

"If you continue to ignore it and it's over your center of vision, it can cause a permanent scare that affects your vision for the rest of your life," he said.

Also keep in mind if you work at a computer, take breaks, and look at something further away at least once an hour to avoid repetitive eye strain.

WIBW Expanded Coverage

From www.preventblindness.org/safety/worksafe.html
Workplace Eye Safety

Q: Why is eye safety at work important?

A: Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day. About 1 in 10 injuries require one or more missed workdays to recover from. Of the total amount of work-related injuries, 10-20 % will cause temporary or permanent vision loss.

Experts believe that the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of eye injuries in accidents.

Q: What are the common causes of eye injuries?

A: Common causes for eye injuries are:

Flying objects (bits of metal, glass)
Harmful radiation
Any combination of these or other hazards
Q: What is my best defense against an eye injury?

A: There are three things you can do to help prevent an eye injury

Know the eye safety dangers at work-complete an eye hazard assessment
Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls)
Use proper eye protection.
Q: When should I protect my eyes at work?

A: You should wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear.

Q: What type of safety eyewear is available to me?

A: Safety eyewear protection includes:

Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses
Face shields
Welding helmets
Full-face respirators
Q: What type of safety eye protection should I wear?

A: The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields). If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.

Q: What is the difference between glass, plastic, and polycarbonate safety lenses?

A: All three types of safety lenses meet or exceed the requirements for protecting your eyes.

Glass lenses

Are not easily scratched
Can be used around harsh chemicals
Can be made in your corrective prescription
Are sometimes heavy and uncomfortable
Plastic lenses

Are lighter weight
Protect against welding splatter
Are not likely to fog
Are not as scratch-resistant as glass
Polycarbonate lenses

Are lightweight
Protect against welding splatter
Are not likely to fog
Are stronger than glass and plastic
Are more impact resistant than glass or plastic
Are not as scratch resistant as glass
Q: Does safety eye protection work?

A: Yes, eye protection does work. The Wise Owl Program, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America, recognizes more than 86, 000 people who avoided losing their sight in a workplace accident because they were wearing proper eye protection.

For more information on workplace eye safety, email us at info@preventblindness.org, contact us online, or call 1-800-331-2020.

**For more on NIOSH eye safety guidelines and a description of what different lens tints are appropriate for, visit www.tasco-safety.com/sglasses/guidelines.html.

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