Weekly Safety Meeting – Eye Safety on the Job

Eye injuries of all types occur at a rate of more than 1,000 per day. Each year some 100,000 of these will be disabling because of temporary or permanent vision loss.

A recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that three out of five workers who suffered an eye injury wore no protection. And, of those who did, 40 percent wore the wrong kind.

You should wear safety eyewear whenever there is any chance that machines or operations present the hazard of flying objects, chemicals, harmful radiation, or a combination of these or other hazards.

Experts believe that proper eye protection could have prevented or reduced the severity of injury in at least 90 percent of all accidents.

OSHA Criteria for Eye Protection:

All eye protection must be in compliance with the American National Standards Institute ANSI Z87.1. All eyewear worn as PPE must at the very least:

  • Provide appropriate protection;
  • Have a safe design suited for the work that is going to be carried out; • Be as comfortable as possible without compromising safety standards; • Fit snugly but not impede the movements of the wearer;
  • Be durable;
  • Be easy to clean and able to withstand disinfecting;
  • Only be marked with the manufacturer’s identification; and
  • Used in conjunction with proper training.

That last point is important. Employees must be made aware of what type of work situations require protective eye and face wear, as well as what type of eye PPE is appropriate for each job.

Eye hazards:

There are four types of particles that can cause eye injuries on the job.

  • Unidentified flying objects: These microscopic objects consist of dust and particles floating around in the air, generated by wind, equipment, or cleaning operations. When working in dusty conditions, wear eye protection. Even a small speck in the eye can lead to trouble.
  • Particles resulting from chipping, grinding, sawing, brushing, hammering, or using power tools: These particles move at an amazing speed and strike with the force of a bullet. Wear eye protection any time over-head operations are performed. It may be advisable on some jobs to wear safety goggles under a full-face shield.
  • Invisible hazards: You can’t see the injurious light rays generated by welding operations or laser beams. And their effects often are not felt until hours later. Wear the eye protection required when using such equipment. And if you happen to be working nearby, don’t look in the direction of welding arcs or where a laser beam is being used.
  • Liquids: Hot liquids, such as tar or asphalt, solvents, paint, and solutions for cleaning masonry or metal can cause serious eye injury if splashed in your face. The use of proper eye protection, possibly a full-face shield, is essential when transferring liquids between containers and when using caustic or acid cleaners.

Making the most of eye protection:

Eye protectors are only as good as they fit. A poor fit is not only uncomfortable, but it also defeats the purpose of wearing the protection – to keep objects and splashes away from the eyes. Poor- fitting eye protection should be replaced. Eye and face protectors will fit better and last longer if they are cared for properly.

Proper care includes:

  • Before each wearing, checking for bent or damaged frames, scratched lenses, and loose or damaged headbands;
  • After each wearing, washing gently in warm soapy water, rinsing thoroughly, and air-drying; and
  • Storage in a clean, dust-proof case.

Your eyesight is a precious gift. Please do not wait too long to come to your senses. If your work presents an exposure to eye hazards, wear your eye protection.

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