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Published on October 28, 2020

5 Steps to Avoid Eye Injuries at Work

5 Steps to Avoid Eye Injuries at Work

Eye injuries in the workplace can happen in a split second. Flying particles, chemical splashes, dust, sparks, or a flash of optical radiation all have the potential to cause serious harm to an employee’s vision.

Fortunately, there are protocols employers can implement to reduce the risk of an eye injury. In observance of Eye Injury Prevention month, our occupational health team put together five steps employers can take to prevent eye injuries.

1. Know the Hazards

Occupations that have a higher risk of eye injury include construction, manufacturing, carpentry, auto repair, electrical work, and welding. However, all employers should perform an annual eye safety assessment.

  • The first step is identifying any equipment, materials, processes, or tasks that have the potential to cause eye injuries.
  • Keep in mind that in some situations, all employees in a work area will need eye protection. In other places, protective gear may only be required for a specific task.
  • Make sure safety features of equipment such as machine guards are working properly and that employees understand how to safely operate machinery.

2. Choose the Right Type of Eye Protection

Be sure you know OSHA regulations for protective eyewear.  Some of these regulations include:

  • All safety glasses must provide side protection.
  • Special chemical-resistant goggles are needed for work with hazardous chemicals.
  • Filter lenses are required for welding or other processes that involve light radiation. Know the appropriate filter lens shade number for the specific type of welding that will be used.
  • Be sure you have gear that accommodates employees who have prescription glasses. The equipment should either incorporate the prescription in its design or the employee should have eye protection that can be safely worn over prescription lenses.

3. Regularly Inspect Protective Gear

Employees should be trained to inspect eye equipment before each use, know how to request replacements, and understand how to dispose of damaged gear so that it won’t mistakenly be worn by someone else.

All equipment to protect eyes should be inspected daily for the following:

  • Cracks and scratches in lenses and shields
  • Any damage or fit issues with frames, nose pieces, goggle body, and side shields
  • Cracks and tears in goggle seals
  • The fit and condition of headbands

4. Have Emergency Eye Wash Stations Near Chemicals

Place easily accessible eye wash stations in areas where chemicals are used. Immediately flushing affected eyes can help reduce the severity of an accidental splash or even prevent blindness. Eye wash stations or bottles of eye wash should be placed no more than 10 seconds away from areas where hazardous chemicals are used. 

5. Provide Regular Vision Screenings for Employees

Uncorrected vision problems can contribute to accidents. Many employers incorporate vision testing in pre-placement and routine physical examinations of employees. 

Need Guidance for Eye Safety in Your Company?

Occupational health nurses with Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness can help your company develop eye safety protocols, meet OSHA requirements, and provide vision screenings for employees. To learn more about these services or other occupational health services, contact Jacqueline Heyward at 336-832-7315.