OSHA requires all employees to wear eye and face protection in the workplace to avoid occupational eye injuries. The set safety standards are enforced to ensure that workers are shielded when exposed to potential eye hazards like flying particles, chemicals, acids, molten metal, gases or vapor, or radiation. In some work environments, side shields are required.
Employees who wear prescription lenses either need to wear eye protection that fits over their glasses or have prescription safety lenses.
Eye Hazard Training
Studies have shown that employees who suffer from work related eye injuries tend to believe that eye and face protection is not necessary to perform the task at hand. Besides OSHA requirements, training and education are key to decrease the number of workplace eye injuries. Every employee needs to be fully informed and know when to wear eye protection, and understand which form of eye protection is best for every situation.
Protective Eyewear Design
Another factor that affects how eager employees are to wear eye protection in the workplace, is design. Workers avoid using eyewear that is uncomfortable, unsightly, or fits poorly. It has been reported that 57 percent of occupational eye injuries occur in workers between the ages of 20 and 34. Technological advances have allowed for more appealing design improvements in safety eyewear.
Safety Eyewear Performance
Fogging is a serious problem with eye and face protection because it can impair vision. Many employees will remove safety eyewear if the lenses are blurry, even just for a few seconds, and at times, might not replace the goggles until after the job is done. This leads to work related eye injuries. There are new anti-fog and water shedding coatings available to minimize the blurry effect. This feature is a must for employees who work in a fog-producing area.
Eye Injury Prevention At-Home
These advancements to safety eyewear performance and design have encouraged better worker compliance. But, injury prevention is also important outside of work. Employers should stress that safety eyewear should be worn both on the job and outside of the workplace.
When an eye injury occurs, employers pay the price, no matter where the incident happened. Whether you get hurt at home or on the clock, a worker can suffer from impaired vision and time out of work, either temporarily or for good. About 41 percent of eye injuries are afflicted after work hours. Occupational eye injuries can result in worker compensation costs, increased insurance rates, lost productivity, and sick or long-term disability leave.
Employers need to enforce consistent eye safety rules by encouraging workers to also protect their eye and face off the job. This is in the best interest of employees and employers.