Eye Injuries: The Most Common in the Workplace and Their Causes
It might come as a surprise to many, but eye injuries that occur in the workplace are very common. In fact, more than 20,000 eye injuries happen each year in American businesses. These injuries range from minor eye strain to serious trauma. Experts estimate that eye injuries cost American business more than $300 million a year. This comes in the form of lost productivity, treatment, and resulting compensation. The good news in all of this is that more than 90 percent of these injuries are preventative with proper protection and practices.
Regardless of the workplace setting, from the common office to the highly mechanized factories, eye injuries can and do happen. In fact, they happen every day. This runs the gamut from secretaries with eyestrain to factory workers injured by flying debris, chemicals or even radiation. Prevention of these eye injuries is possible with simple understanding.
OSHA Identifies These 5 Eye Injuries as those that Occur the Most in Workplaces
Impact Caused Eye Injuries
Flying objects are the leading cause of eye injuries. This can be something as small and innocuous as a paper clip or hazardous as metal shavings, fragments, particles, and dirt. These hazards usually originate from jobs like grinding, machining, woodworking, drilling, sawing, power fastening, sanding and more. These flying objects or sparks originating with them can be very small, but they can cause serious eye damage.
OSHA recommends that anyone working in an area exposed to possibly flying objects should wear protective lenses or goggles. They should even consider the use of these devices when they are already wearing some type of vision correction eyewear.
Heat Related Eye Injuries
Workers who are exposed to heat of any sort can incur injuries such as burns. This includes splashes from molten metals as well as hot sparks. Workplaces where injuries such as these are common include those where casting, pouring, furnace operations, welding, and more. Workers exposed to heat sources should wear protective goggles, safety glasses, or face masks or other specially designed headwear.
Chemically Caused Eye Injuries
Workers who come into contact with chemical sources are also vulnerable to eye injuries caused by these products. In fact, mists, splashes, fumes and vapors, and other unprotected exposures can lead to serious injuries. In fact, chemical injuries are especially insidious since the chemical itself, vapors, and other forms can enter the eye even under or around protective eye equipment. Special care should always be taken when there are chemicals involved since these types of accidents can be not only serious but the result irreversible. Workers who are exposed to chemicals should not only wear secure eye protection, but should also always know the location of eye baths and eyewash stations located in their workplace.
Dust Borne Injuries
In most workplaces dust is an ever-present problem, making it difficult to deal with and even harder to avoid. Anyone exposed to dust can cause have their eyes injured. This is especially true for people with allergies and contact wearers. Workers exposed to dust should wear eye protection that includes eyecups and/or safety goggles.
Optical Radiation Injuries
Laser work & similar operations contain a chance for injuries. High concentrations of heat and light are the leading culprits of eye injuries in these positions. Exposing your eyes to these can result in retinal burns, cataracts, and even blindness. Determining the intensity of the lasers and then wearing lenses that protect against those levels is the best way to avoid these injuries.
There are, of course, many other workplace eye injuries. Fortunately, in addition to the protective guide above, your attention to safety will pay high dividends.