MARCH IS WORKPLACE EYE WELLNESS MONTH
March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that over 20,000 eye injuries resulting in lost workdays occurred in American workplaces in 2012. According to the 2012 BLS data for Texas, the categories of struck by an object and exposure to harmful substances or environments accounted for 18% and 33% of the total work-related eye injuries requiring days away from work respectively. Twenty three percent of the total cases were caused by chemicals or chemical products.
Eye injuries are categorized as physical, chemical, and thermal. Physical eye injuries can result from flying or falling objects or sparks striking the eye. They are also caused by objects swinging from a fixed position such as tree limbs, ropes, chains, or tools. Other common causes of physical eye injuries are small, fast-moving particles, like debris from sanding, grinding, chipping, or similar operations.
Chemical injuries from alkalis or caustic acids can be extremely serious. Working with chemicals without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) potentially exposes the eyes to splashes, vapors, and fumes. Safety goggles with direct ventilation are typically considered to be the best form of eye protection while working with hazardous chemicals.
Thermal eye injuries occur in conditions of extreme heat. A face shield is the best protection in thermal conditions. Acetate shields or other flexible plastic visor type shields that cover the face and neck are preferred. Always wear safety glasses or goggles under a face shield. A welding helmet may be required in extreme heat or concentrated light environments.
Most of these types of eye injuries can be prevented if employees correctly follow safety guidelines and use PPE. PPE is required for anyone working in or with dust, concrete, metal particles, glass, smoke, chemicals, gases, bloodborne pathogens, welding and electrical arc, thermal hazards, and fires.
There are many different types of eye protection available for use as PPE. The design, construction, testing, and use of protective eyewear must comply with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1-1989 rating standard. Appropriate eye protection depends on the potential eye hazards present in the workplace.
The DWC offers the following free safety publications related to eye safety:
- Eye Injury Prevention Fact Sheet
- Eye Protection Safety Training Program
- Eyewash Safety Workplace Program
These publications can be downloaded from the agency website, along with many other safety publications.
The DWC features a free occupational safety and health DVD loan library. Call 512-804-4620 for more information or visit the TDI website. DVDs on workplace wellness can be found under the Eye Safety and Personal Protective Equipment subject headings.
The CDC publishes a number of resources such as facts, statistics, publications and educational materials on its Vision Health Initiative web page.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers a Workplace Safety & Health Topics page on Eye Safety on its website.
For more information contact:
Last updated: 05/08/2014