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Preventing Eye Injuries in the Workplace

Fortunately, almost all eye injuries workers sustain in the workplace care preventable. The risk of work-related eye injuries is reduced with proper preventive strategies. However, this responsibility falls on both employees and employers.

Provide Appropriate Eye Protection

It is not enough to provide eye protection to workers; employers should provide eye protection appropriate for tasks. This requires knowing which job tasks require low, medium, and high-impact eye protection.

Low-impact protection such as eyecup goggles, safety glasses, and face shields are appropriate for jobs that involve riveting, chipping and hammering a strap under tension. Medium-impact protection may be needed for tasks that involve grinding metals, brick cutting, wire handling and scaling and.

Jobs that involve the use of nail guns and explosive power tools require high-impact protection that includes face shields and filters, as do tasks that involve handling chemicals.

Ordinary eyewear such as sunglasses, contact lenses, and prescription glasses do not protect the eye adequately and are not considered appropriate eye safety aids in the workplace. In fact, contact lenses may even pose a risk of eye injury; for instance, if a chemical splashes into the eye, it may localize within the contact lens, concentrating the consequent eye injury.

Eliminate Potential Eye Hazards

Eliminating potential eye hazards from the worksite reduces the risk of work-related eye injuries. Possible ways of doing this include:

Isolate high-risk equipment

Maintain workplace equipment, ensuring their safety devices are in proper positions and good working conditions.

  • Maintain workplace equipment, ensuring their safety devices are in proper positions and good working conditions.
  • Use exhaust hoods or extractor fans to manage dust or fumes in the work site
  • Where possible, replace toxic chemical substances and high-risk equipment with safer alternatives.
  • Install safety barriers with the use of work site equipment
  • Ensure all workplace equipment operators follow the manufacturer user instructions and safety guidelines.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation and humidification for dusty environments.

Raise Awareness about Workplace Eye Safety

It's one thing to offer eye-protection for workers; it's another thing for workers to be aware of the risks of not using them. Supervisors should coordinate regular training sessions on eye safety for workers. Supervisors should also run regular eye hazard assessments for workers, to determine their level of awareness of the potential hazards of eye injuries in the workplace.

What Employees Can Do to maintain eye-safety

For the worker, these simple tips will help maintain eye-safety in the workplace:

  • Use an anti-glare screen for your computer screen
  • Do not stare at your screen for a long time; take breaks off the screen every 20 minutes.
  • Adjust your computer screen at a right-angle, away from a direct source of light.
  • Visit the eye clinic for regular comprehensive eye examinations at least once a year.
  • Over-the-counter artificial tears may be necessary, to prevent the eyes from becoming dry.

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