When we think of workplace safety and the accidents and injuries that can happen in our work environment, it’s pretty common for us to imagine broken limbs or other physical wounds.
But workplace hazards can cause a wide range of injuries, with some of them resulting not just in loss of mobility but also in drastic changes in how we experience our world.
The loss of one’s eyesight is one such example of an injury that would impact practically all aspects of a person’s daily life.
Our eyes are often exposed to many hazards in the workplace. Around 2,000 people reportedly suffer eye injuries at work each day, with 10-20% of them facing some degree of vision loss.
A workplace safety plan would therefore be incomplete without provisions to prevent loss of vision or other eye injuries.
There are specific eye hazards that are associated with activities such as welding and the handling of chemicals. For such hazards, special protective equipment are necessary to minimize the risk of eye injury.
Choosing the right equipment would, of course, depend on the actual hazards that may be found in your workplace. OSHA has this e-tool that can help you determine the eye equipment that would be most appropriate for your workplace.
Common eye hazards such as bad lighting and long-term computer use, on the other hand, can also strain your eyes and lead to a gradual loss of eyesight.
Lighting conditions, therefore, should also be addressed along with the more obvious eye hazards. The effects of poor lighting can be minimized by carefully planning your workplace’s lay-out and providing eye-friendly equipment to workers such as glare filters, document holders and reading lights.
Our sense of sight is probably the one sensory mechanism that we are most dependent on. We use it to navigate safely through our environment, identify people and objects, gather information, and enjoy the world as a whole.
So when considering workplace safety, we must not “overlook” eye protection and the hazards that can lead to eye injuries.
- Eye Safety Video Program
- Eye Safety Safety Meeting Kit
- Eye Safety Booklet
- Eye Safety Training Program (English only)
Additional eye safety and eye protection references you may find useful:
- OSHA Fact Sheet: Eye Protection in the Workplace
The financial cost of eye injuries is enormous. More than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and workers compensation.
- Safety and Health Topics – Eye and Face Protection
Thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection
- CDC – Eye Safety – NIOSH Workplace Safety & Health Topic
The majority of these injuries result from small particles or objects striking or abrading the eye.
- Eye Safety in the Workplace
A pdf document PennState University explaining the different forms of eye protection – glasses, goggles, and shields.
- Workplace Eye Health & Safety
Engineering controls should be used to reduce eye injuries and to protect against ocular infection exposures. Personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full face respirators must also be used when an eye hazard exists.