Eye injuries in the workplace all across America are extremely common; in fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has reported that 2,000 eye injuries which require medical treatment occur each day. These eye injuries while on the job typically occur for two major reasons:
- The employee was not wearing any eye protection.
- The employee was not wearing the proper eye protection.
Safety experts, however, believe that proper eye protection can lessen the severity of optical injuries and in some cases even prevent 90% of the eye injuries that occur every day.
How Can I Protect My Eyes at Work?
As stated before, wearing protective eyewear while on the job can lessen the extent of damage during an eye injury or even totally prevent optical injuries. You do, however, need to make sure you are wearing proper eye protection, or it may fail to provide your eyes with any protection. Some of the most common eye protectors for use at work include:
Although safety glasses often look like typical prescription glasses, they are, however, much different. Safety glasses have been designed to provide more protection and are typically made using stronger materials, usually a durable form of plastic and polycarbonate; with these materials, be sure to look for Z87 marked on the lenses or frames.
In work conditions where flying particles, debris or dust may be present, safety glasses can provide protection. Side shields and “wraparound” safety glasses may provide additional protection from side projectiles.
Much like safety glasses, goggles are designed to be highly impact-resistant. They create a protective shield over the eyes and are capable of protecting your eyes from debris coming from any angle. These can also be worn over prescription glasses and contact lenses, ensuring the employee can see correctly while being protected.
In work conditions where projectiles, debris, dust and even chemical splashes may be present, goggles can provide adequate protection.
Face shields and helmets are useful for workers that may be exposed to chemicals, blood-borne pathogens, and even heat. They are meant to be used in conjunction with safety glasses and goggles to ensure protection even if the shield has been lifted.
For those working with lasers, who weld or may be exposed to optical radiation exposure, helmets and face shields with special filters should be used.