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Protecting Your Workers from Eye Injuries

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Every year in the U.S., emergency room staff treat about 300,000 people who arrive with eye injuries, and significant percentage of these injuries happen in the workplace. Mining, construction and manufacturing industries seem to be the largest offenders, claiming about 40 percent of workplace-inflicted injuries every year.

As it happens, eye protection and eye safety policies are often loosely enforced—Hard hat rules, safe equipment maintenance and hand protection guidelines are comparatively rigid in many workplaces, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. But according to statistics provided by the American Academy of Opthamology, about 90 percent of workplace eye injuries—from minor strain to sever trauma—are preventable with proper protections in place.

Above all, managers and supervisors have a critical responsibility to enforce the use of safety gear and protective eyewear in any workplace that involves caustic chemicals, airborne particulates, sparks, or flying debris. Falling objects, intense light and heat, and welding activities also provide a serious and common threat to vision and the tissue surrounding the eye.

Take Necessary Steps to Protect Workers

All protective eyewear should be approved by the American National Standards Institute and OHSA compliant. Face shields, helmets and eyewear should be specifically designed for the task at hand—Workers exposed to flying objects and dust required side protection, for example, and any interaction with chemicals should involve goggles that protect the eyes from every direction.

In case of blunt trauma or objects in the eye, do not remove the object. Gently place a shield over the area and seek medical help immediately. Do not administer aspirin or any drug that may act as a blood thinner, since this may increase bleeding.

In case of a chemical burn, flush the area with a continuous stream of clean water and seek medical treatment right away.

In the event of a blow to the eye, DO NOT apply pressure. Gently apply a small cold compress to address pain and swelling and assess any visual disturbances that may be taking place. In the event of any disturbance or visual after-effect, seek emergency medical treatment. Keep in mind that even a light blow involving the eye can have serious and lasting damage.

In the event of sand or debris in the eye, do NOT rub. Flush the eye with water or eyewash solution, apply a light bandage, and seek treatment immediately.

For more guidelines on eye injury care and prevention in the workplace, contact the business management and staffing experts at CSS.

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