March 2019

Safety Tip: March

Prevent Eye Injuries


It can happen in the blink of an eye. Every year, more than 100,000 North Americans permanently lose the sight in one or both eyes as a result of workplace eye injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, direct and indirect costs for workplace eye injuries amount to almost $1 billion a year. A bureau survey found three out of five workers who suffered eye injuries had not been wearing eye protection. Of those who were, 40% wore the wrong kind. It’s estimated 90% of workplace eye injuries can be prevented by wearing approved protective eyewear.

Here are the common causes of eye injuries: 

  • Penetration by small foreign objects. More than two-thirds of eye injuries on the job are related to flying or falling objects striking the eye. Most often, the object is smaller than a pinhead. 
  • Oil, grease, chemicals or steam can enter the eye. 
  • Sparks, along with ultraviolet and infrared radiation from a welder’s arc can damage not only the eyes of the welder, but those of bystanders too. Laser radiation can also cause permanent eye damage. 
  • Eyes can be damaged or destroyed from blows and impacts. Are you using proper eye protection on the job and away from work? For example, impact goggles alone aren’t designed to protect your eyes from chemical splashes, but goggles combining impact and splash protection are available. Regular prescription eyewear will provide little protection from a hockey puck or squash ball travelling at blinding speed. 

Here are some tips for dealing with eye injuries until professional help arrives: 

  • Dust and other small foreign objects can sometimes be washed away by tears. Pull the upper eyelid down over the lower one and release it. If the object is under the lower lid, pull the lid down and use the corner of a piece of sterile gauze to gently remove it. Don’t rub the eye! 
  • Know exactly where eyewash stations and safety showers are located and how to find your way there, even in the dark. If a chemical splashes into your eyes, you won’t be able to rely on your eyesight to guide you there. Hold your eyes wide open and flush with cool or room temperature water for at least 15 minutes. Cover the affected eye or eyes with sterile gauze and loosely tape it into place. Seek immediate medical help. 
  • If something has been forced into the eye, never attempt to remove it. That’s a job for medical professionals. Removing an imbedded item can destroy the eye. Cover it loosely with sterile gauze and get the victim to hospital immediately. 

Keep the Gift of Sight!

Be sure to always wear properly fitted and approved eye protection!


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