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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in eye safety

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Each day an average of 2,000 workers in the United States suffers job-related eye injuries requiring medical treatment. That’s according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH),

Approximately three out of every five workers who experienced eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were not wearing the proper kind of eye protection for the task. That’s according to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS also reported that in 2014 there were 23,730 eye injuries requiring time away from work that year, accounting for 6 percent of the total of all lost-time cases in both private industry and state and local government.

What we don’t need these statistics to tell us is that eye injuries can be life-changing. Their effects can range from simple eye strain to severe trauma that result in permanent damage or loss of vision. Blunt trauma can damage the eye directly or even the bones that surround it.

According to OSHA, thousands of workers are blinded each year from occupational injuries that could have been prevented through properly selected and fitted vision protection. Such personal protective equipment which must be worn by employees who are exposed to hazardous chemical splash, dust, and particulate matter.

OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (1) states that it is the responsibility of the employer to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.” That includes making sure the PPE uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects (OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (2). For those who wear prescription lenses, OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(3) requires that each affected employee “engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.”

Common forms of PPE for the face and eyes safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and full face respirators. However, PPE selection depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the type of other PPE to be used, and an individual’s vision needs.

OSHA standards recommend that a person should always wear properly fitted eye protective gear when:
-Doing work that may produce particles, slivers, or dust from materials like wood, metal, plastic, cement, and drywall;
-Hammering, sanding, grinding, or doing masonry work;
-Working with power tools;
-Working with chemicals, including common household chemicals like ammonia, oven cleaners, and bleach;
-Using a lawnmower, riding mower, or other motorized gardening devices like string trimmers;
-Working with wet or powdered cement;
-Welding (which requires extra protection like a welding mask or helmet from sparks and UV radiation);
-“Jumping” the battery of a motor vehicle;
-Being a bystander to any of the above situations.

OSHA notes that ensuring PPE fits an employee properly is essential to effectively protecting that person; this is particularly true with eye protection. Without a good fit, protective eyewear is likely to be uncomfortable, to slip, and possibly to be damaged or even discarded. Again, we don’t need statistics to tell us that the consequences of even brief lapses in protection can be severe.

OSHA's Eye and Face Protection eTool (available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/eyeandface/index.html) offers a basic hazard assessment table to help employers begin the process of selecting proper PPE. The table lists five types of vision hazard that might be encountered at work – impact, heat, chemicals, dust, and optical radiation — and offers examples and common tasks related to each.

One final note: OSHA urges employers not to rely on PPE devices alone to protect hazards. Instead, personal protective gear should be a part of a safety environment that includes engineering controls and robust safety practices.

 

Eye injuries on the job can occur from a variety of sources, from exposure to chemicals or particulate matter to cuts or scrapes to the cornea. Other common sources of eye (and skin) injuries are splashes, steam burns and exposure to ultraviolet or infrared radiation.

Every day, an average of 2000 workers in the United States suffer job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). March has been designated as Workplace Eye Wellness Month, a time to focus on vision safety on the job. Obviously, that should be a year-round concern; anytime is a good time to determine what personal protective equipment is appropriate for the job, review eye and face protection protocols with employees, and ensure they are correctly using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job.

According to OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (1), it is the responsibility of the employer to "ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards." That includes making sure the PPE uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects (OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (2). For those who wear prescription lenses, OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(3) requires that each affected employee "engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses."

The PPE selected depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the type of other PPE to be used, and a person’s vision needs. Common forms of PPE for the face and eyes include safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and full face respirators.

Of course, having the PPE is only part of equation: The equipment will only do its job properly if it is used properly. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of workers who suffered eye injuries showed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. The workers in the survey most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation.

A final thought: OSHA urges employers not to rely exclusively upon PPE devices to protect against eye hazards. Personal protective gear should be a part of a safety environment that includes guards, engineering controls, and robust safety practices.

How is your workplace watching over employee eye safety?

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